Teen Suicide Statistics
- Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for ages 10-24. (2016 CDC WISQARS)
- Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death for college-age youth and ages 12-18. (2016 CDC WISQARS)
- More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.
- Each day in our nation, there are an average of over 3,470 attempts by young people grades 9-12. If these percentages are additionally applied to grades 7 & 8, the numbers would be higher.
- Four out of Five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs.
Today’s theme for National Prevention Week is suicide prevention. This is an important topic to discuss since the suicide rate for girls (ages 15 to 19) has doubled from 2007 to 2015, when it reached its highest point in 40 years, according to the CDC. The suicide rate for boys ages (15 to 19) has increased by 30% over the same time period.
To prevent teen suicide, it is important to know the warning signs. Here are some red flags to watch for:
- Talking about suicide
- Expressing feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
- Losing interest in things they once cared about
- Being preoccupied with death
- Giving prized possessions away
- Risky or destructive behavior
- Problems at school, such as poor performance
- Changes in eating and sleeping habits
- Low self-esteem
- Drug or alcohol abuse
- Lack of energy
- Irritability, anger, or hostility
- And more
Not only are there warning signs, but there are risk factors as well, which include:
- A recent loss
- Lack of social support
- Cultural or religious beliefs
- Having a psychiatric disorder
- Family history of suicide, domestic violence, child abuse, or neglect
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- Struggling with sexual orientation, especially if they feel like no one is respectful or supportive around them
- Perfectionist personalities
- Disabled youth
If your teen is showing any of the warning signs or falls under any of the risk factors, the most important thing you can do is talk to them. That can be especially hard if parents are not sure how to start or have a conversation about suicide. Here are some dos and don’ts of talking to a teen who may be suicidal:
- Let them know that you do care.
- Let them know they are not alone.
- Let them unload their feelings of despair and vent about their problems.
- Offer hope.
- Let them know how important they are to you.
- Be sympathetic.
- Be non-judgemental.
- Be accepting.
- Seek help for your teen.
- Take them seriously.
- Watch/monitor your child carefully, including their online activity.
- Lecture, in other words, don’t tell them how thoughts of suicide are wrong or that they have so much to live for.
- Promise confidentiality or be sworn to secrecy.
- Give advice.
- Offer ways to fix their problems.
- Blame yourself.
- Give up.
- Minimize their problems.
One of the greatest resources for anyone, whether you are someone considering suicide or someone who is looking to help someone with suicidal feelings, is the National Suicide Prevention Hotline. It is free and open 24/7. You can even chat online. To reach out, call 1-800-273-8255. You can also seek out resources within your community.