What are Risks for Teen Suicide? Part 3

The alarmingly high rate of suicide in the U.S. emphasizes the extreme need for continual education on suicide for our youth. Suicide rates in adolescents and youth remain unacceptably high in the United States. It is our hope that through continual education to the public on the statistics, risk factors, warning signs, and possible intervention strategies for suicide, that we will collectively work together and begin to see those numbers decline. That's why Imagine Hope is dedicating an entire week to educating our readers. Statistics and Facts:

  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death in teens, and overall in youths ages 10-19 (Anderson and Smith 2003).
  • Only car accidents and homicides kill more people between 15 and 24 than suicide.
  • Roughly 1% of all teens attempt suicide and about 1% of those suicide attempts result in death. For teens who have clinical depression, the rates of suicidal thinking and behavior are much higher. Most teens who have depression think about suicide, and between 15% and 30% of teens with serious depression who think about suicide, go on to make a suicide attempt.
  • Though women make more attempts at suicide, men are more likely to succeed (Krug et al. 2002).
  • There are 4 male suicides for every 1 female suicide (CDC 2003).
  • Of the total number of suicides among ages 15 to 24 in 2001, 86% were male and 14% were female (Anderson and Smith 2003).
  • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students.

To contemplate suicide at any age is an awful experience to endure. For adolescents and teens—who have a lifetime of potential ahead of them, it seems doubly awful. For someone who has never experienced that struggle, it can also seem almost unfathomable to understand why someone would contemplate, or even make an attempt at ending their own life. In order to help our youth understand how to find other ways of coping than suicide, we all must work to better understand what can impact a teenager’s tendency to see suicide as an option for solving their problems.

Through the course of development, adolescence and youth is recognized as one of the most difficult, confusing, and volatile of all developmental stages. Adolescence is characterized by role changes and is the point in our development where we are beginning to try and form our identity. In addition, adolescents and young adults often experience stress, anger, confusion, and depression from situations occurring in their friendships, families, schools, or communities. Because of the many changes and challenges taking place in adolescence, communication can be problematic. As a result, teens often feel very isolated and alone in their confusion. Many times, teens will feel embarrassed for having these thoughts and feelings, and will keep them even more closely guarded, not realizing that there is help available to them in working through their internal struggles. Such feelings can overwhelm young people and lead them to consider suicide as a “solution.” Few schools and communities have suicide prevention plans that include screening, referral, and crisis intervention programs for youth (Lyness 2002).

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, please call 1-800-SUICIDE or 911 for immediate help.

Written by guest blogger Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC

Teri Claassen MSW, LCSW, LCAC is a licensed therapist at Renewed Horizon Counseling. Teri does virtual therapy for residents of Indiana and Florida using videoconferencing technology. Teri enjoys doing marriage counseling, individual counseling, couples and relationship counseling. Teri also does family counseling and adolescent counseling. You can find Teri at renewedhorizon.com