Teen Suicide: Statistics, Facts & Prevention in the US

Instructor: Melissa Oden

Dr. Oden earned a master's degree in Social Work, a master's degreee in Public Health, and a Doctorate in Health Education.

In this lesson, you will learn about statistics and facts concerning teen suicide in the United States. You will also learn some strategies to help someone who may be exhibiting suicidal tendencies.

Teen Suicide Statistics

Suicide continues to be a serious public health problem in the United States. According to the Jason Foundation, suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-24. Additionally, the Jason Foundation states that more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED. The foundation also reports that each day in our nation, there are an average of over 5,400 attempts by young people grades 7-12, and that four out of five teens who attempt suicide have given clear warning signs. So, what are some of those signs, and what are the facts about teen suicide? How can teen suicide be prevented?

Suicide Facts

Typically, there are signs and symptoms that indicate that a teen might be contemplating suicide. Oftentimes, teens who contemplate or carry out a suicide attempt have a mental health disorder of some sort. In fact, about 90% of teens who commit suicide are dealing with a mental health challenge. Most teens do not spend a long time planning suicide. It often will occur after an event or circumstance that leaves them feeling like they have failed, or after having experienced a loss.

17-year-old Cory, a high school Junior, was typically a fairly quiet kid. He had a few friends but wasn't as outgoing as most of the other kids in his school. Lately, however, Cory's friends had begun to notice that he seemed sadder than usual, and that he had begun to lose interest in the few things he did like to participate in. Cory's girlfriend had recently broken up with him, and Cory felt a sense of great loss. He wasn't sleeping well, and was feeling worthless and hopeless. His grades began to slip. His friends noticed that he had begun drinking to make himself feel better. He even tried to give away some of his prized possessions to some of his friends. A few days later, his friends found out that Cory had committed suicide.

This story is a fairly classic suicide scenario. Not all cases are this clear, but there are usually always signs and symptoms that can be seen before the suicide occurs. According to the non-profit agency Teen Suicide, some risk factors include disinterest in favorite extracurricular activities, problems at work, substance abuse, behavioral problems, changes in eating and sleeping habits, withdrawing from family and friends, neglecting personal appearance or hygiene, loss of interest in school work, inability to pay attention, and declining grades, to name a few.

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