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Report: Suicide rates for teen girls reach highest level in 40 years

(WZTV)

A new report shows suicides for older teen girls reached its highest rate in four decades.

The Centers for Disease Control said the suicide rate for girls ages 15-19 reached an all-time high in 2015. It's the highest rate recorded since 1975.

Tennessee is trying to get ahead of the curve by being the first state in the nation to require all school district employees to undergo suicide prevention training annually.

It's a result of Governor Haslam signing Jared's Law last year.

"In 2014, I lost my best friend Jared Martin to suicide," Kelsey Neely said. "I went to school with him my whole life, and then he moved to the Virgin Islands our junior year and didn't know anyone."

Neely, the Jared's Keepers outreach coordinator, now spreads awareness on suicide prevention in memory of her 17-year-old friend.

"We've had so many kids come to us and say hey I am going to counseling now because of you," Neely said.

The organization is also behind Jared's Law.

Tennessee Suicide Prevention Networks said overall suicides increased over the last a decade with Tennesseans ages 10-19.

"Tennessee is one of the states that is very progressive with working with schools across the state with Jared's Law to roll out new suicide prevention protocol," said Scott Ridgeway, TSPN executive director. "It also requires them to have a plan that addresses prevention, intervention and post."

While there are many efforts for prevention used in the state, numbers are higher nationwide according to Ridgeway.

The difference with older girls in Tennessee is the lethal means used for suicide.

"So where as using an overdose or hanging themselves, they're using firearms," Ridgeway said. "I think what we need to do is focus on gun safety and making sure parents are aware how important it is when there is a troubled teen in the home and fire arms are present in the home that bullets are in a different location, trigger locks are on. Removing medications and access to guns and so forth is part of the safety planning."

If you or someone you know is suffering from suicide thought, TSPN has a list of resources to get help. Anyone in need of immediate help can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

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