Objective: We investigated recent trends in youth suicide and their associations with societal and psychological factors in Taiwan. Methods: Suicide data (1971–2019) for 10–24 year olds were extracted from Taiwan’s national cause-of-death data files. We investigated changes in trends in youth suicide rates, societal factors (gross domestic product per capita, Gini index, overall and youth unemployment rates, divorce rates in people aged 40–59 years [i.e. the age of most 15–24 year olds’ parents] and Internet use rates) and psychological distress indicators (youth self-harm rates and the prevalence of worry-related insomnia, and suicide ideation, plan and attempt) using joinpoint regression and graphic examinations. The associations of these factors with youth suicide rates were examined using Prais–Winsten regression. Results: Suicide rates in Taiwan’s 10–24 year olds changed from a downward trend (2005–2014) to an upward trend in 2014 and increased 11.5% (95% confidence interval = [5.2%, 18.1%]) annually between 2014 and 2019. There was also an upturn in divorce rates among females aged 40–59 years in 2014 and self-harm rates among 15- to 24-year-old youth in 2013. The prevalence of self-reported insomnia and suicide ideation, plan and attempt in youth started to increase from 2013 to 2016. In the regression analysis, Internet use, female divorce rates and youth self-harm rates were positively associated with youth suicide rates. Conclusion: Suicide rates and the prevalence of suicidal behaviors began to increase in Taiwanese youth in the 2010s. These increases may be associated with concurrent rises in parental divorce rates, Internet use and poor sleep. Further research is needed to examine the mechanisms underlying recent increases in youth suicide risk.
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