Maine’s child and teen suicide rate increased 30 percent from 2012 to 2014, according to the Maine Children’s Alliance’s annual Kids Count Data Book released Tuesday.
Executive Director Claire Berkowitz says the current rate is nearly 7 suicides per 100,000 deaths for kids ages 10-19.
“And the national rate is 5.4, so we’re significantly higher than the national rate,” she says.
Berkowitz says it’s difficult to pinpoint the reasons behind the increase, but the suicide rate highlights the need to strengthen Maine’s mental health system.
The report also shows infant mortality in Maine is on the rise. From 2005 to 2015, the rate of infant deaths per 1,000 births rose from 5.6 to 6.7.
“A troubling indicator that isn’t just about the well-being of babies, but it’s about the well-being of a community,” Berkowitz says.
Berkowitz says the increased rate likely signals larger problems, such as lack of access to health care for women, as well as issues with education and poverty.