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Risks for Teen Suicide

The world has seen numerous well-known celebrities die by suicide over the last few years, each one coming as a shock and heartbreak - people like Chris Cornell, Chester Bennington, and more recently Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Although these are adults, teens are just as affected by these big names who tragically took their own lives while in the pinnacle of their careers. Teens take note of these devastating circumstances and may be spurred to consider suicide in their own life as a way to address the anxiety and stress they are experiencing. Due to the media circus that surrounds unexpected suicide, sometimes the negative attention that these celebrities gain appeals to teens who think they have nothing to live for.
  • Approximately 115,000 adolescents were taken to the hospital between 2008 and 2015 due to active suicide ideation which doubled over prior years.
  • According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide rates have increased in the United States by 30 percent since 1999.
  • Since 2012, 11 percent of all suicides in the United States happen between the ages of 15 to 24.
  • Suicide is third leading cause of death in the United States for persons between the ages of 15 to 24 with around 5,000 deaths each year.
  • Males make up 85 percent of teen suicides because of the success rate of the methods they choose.
  • Female teens have more suicide attempts than males.
Looking for risk factors associated with suicide is important for parents to take seriously and do regularly. Parents may hear statements such as “I would rather die than…”, “you would be better without me”, or “I should just shoot myself”. These are red flags that need to be acknowledged along with considering whether some other factors which often contribute to teen suicide exist. Some of these factors are:
  • Mental health issues
  • Abuse
  • Trauma
  • Substance abuse
  • Number of previous suicide attempts
  • Hopelessness
  • Loss of social status
  • Breakups
  • Parent’s divorce
  • Bullying
  • Isolation
  • Exposure to suicide
With intense emotionality of teens already present in their developmental phase, sometimes it can be difficult to believe they are serious with their words or even worse in their actions. If a parent suspects anything, they should ask questions, look for resources, take it seriously and get their teen help immediately. Suicide is a real problem that needs to be addressed no matter what - even if you're not certain the threat, or idea, was "real". Suicide is irreversible and when it happens cannot be taken back, so ensure you as a parent are empathetic and prepared. 

If you or your child are struggling with thoughts of suicide, please call the National Suicide Prevention hotline at: 1-800-273-8255

National Suicide Prevention Hotline (24 hour a day)

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

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Crisis Text Line (24 hours a day)

Text 741-741 from anywhere in the USA, anytime, about any type of crisis