Teen Suicide: The Topic Nobody Wants to Talk About

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teen standing on rock in middle of river showing suicide signs of desire to jump

Suicide (i.e., taking one’s own life) is a serious public health problem that affects even young people. For youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death. It results in approximately 4600 lives lost each year. The top three methods used in suicides of young people include firearm (45%), suffocation (40%), and poisoning (8%).

Deaths from youth suicide are only part of the problem. More young people survive suicide attempts than actually die. A nationwide survey of youth in grades 9–12 in public and private schools in the United States found that 16% of students reported seriously considering suicide, 13% reported creating a plan, and 8% reporting trying to take their own life in the 12 months preceding the survey. Each year, approximately 157,000 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries at Emergency Departments across the U.S.

WHO states: More than 700 000 people die by suicide every year. Furthermore, for each suicide, there are more than 20 suicide attempts. Suicides and suicide attempts have a ripple effect that impacts on families, friends, colleagues, communities and societies.

Suicides are preventable. Much can be done to prevent suicide at individual, community and national levels.

Suicide affects all youth, some groups at higher risk than others.

Boys are more likely than girls to die from suicide.

Of the reported suicides in the 10 to 24 age group, 81% of the deaths were males and 19% were females. Girls, however, are more likely to report attempting suicide than boys. Cultural variations in suicide rates also exist, with Native American/Alaskan Native youth having the highest rates of suicide-related fatalities. A nationwide survey of youth in grades 9–12 in public and private schools in the U.S. found Hispanic youth were more likely to report attempting suicide than their black and white, non-Hispanic peers.

Several factors can put a young person at risk for suicide. However, having these risk factors does not always mean that suicide will occur.

Suicide has many warning signs.

Risk factors:

  • History of previous suicide attempts
  • Family history of suicide
  • History of depression or other mental illness
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Stressful life event or loss
  • Easy access to lethal methods
  • Exposure to the suicidal behavior of others
  • Incarceration

Most people are uncomfortable with the topic of suicide.

Too often, victims are blamed, and their families and friends are left stigmatized. As a result, people do not communicate openly about suicide. Thus an important public health problem is left shrouded in secrecy, which limits the amount of information available to those working to prevent suicide.

The good news is that research over the last several decades has uncovered a wealth of information on the causes of suicide and on prevention strategies. Additionally, CDC is working to monitor the problem and develop programs to prevent youth suicide.

Featured CDC Programs

little hand holding bigger hand in black and white photo with text reading Touched by Suicide

DoSomething.org, one of the largest orgs for young people and social change! After you’ve browsed the 11 facts (with citations at the bottom), take action and volunteer with our millions of members. Sign up for a campaign and make the world suck less.

11 FACTS About Suicide:

1. Nearly 30,000 Americans commit suicide every year.
2. In the U.S., suicide rates are highest during the spring.
3. Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for 15 to 24-year-olds and 2nd for 24 to 35-year-olds.
4. On average, 1 person commits suicide every 16.2 minutes.
5. Each suicide intimately affects at least 6 other people.
6. About 2/3 of people who complete suicide are depressed at the time of their deaths. Depression that is untreated, undiagnosed, or ineffectively treated is the number 1 cause of suicide.
7. There is 1 suicide for every 25 attempted suicides.
8. Males make up 79% of all suicides, while women are more prone to having suicidal thoughts.
9. 1 in 65,000 children ages 10 to 14 commit suicide each year.
10. There are 2 times as many deaths due to suicide than HIV/AIDS.
11. Over 50% of all suicides are completed with a firearm.

Teen Suicide Awareness: Statistics How real is the problem of youth suicide?

Here are the numbers:

EVERY YEAR there are approximately 10 youth suicides for every 100,000 youth.
EVERY DAY there are approximately 11 youth suicides.
EVERY 2 HOURS AND 11 MINUTES a person under the age of 25 completes suicide

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens. Suicide is second leading cause of death in colleges. For every suicide completion, there are between 50 and 200 attempts. CDC Youth Risk Survey: 8.5% of students in grades 9-12 reported a suicide attempt in the past year; 25% of high-school students report suicide ideation.

The suicide attempt rate is increasing for youths ages 10-14. >>>> Take Action!

Suicide had the same risk and protective factors as other problem behaviors, such as drugs, violence, and risky sexual activities. While a single suicide is a tragedy, it is estimated that for every adolescent who completes suicide, there are between 50 and 200 suicide attempts.

A recent survey of high-school students found that almost 1 in 5 had seriously considered suicide; more than 1 in 6 had made plans to attempt suicide; and more than 1 in 12 had made a suicide attempt in the past year.

Canada Suicide Prevention Service – 24/7/365 – Call: 1 833-456-4566

Resource: Suicide Prevention and Awareness

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