Teen suicide & prevention
Youth Suicide Statistics
Annual number of youth suicides each year (ages 10-24) 4,600
Percent of youth suicides that include a firearm 45 %
Percent of youth suicides that include suffocation 40 %
Percent of youth suicides that include poisoning 8 %
Percent of students grades 9-12 who reported seriously considering suicide 16 %
Percent who reported creating a plan 13 %
Annual number of youth (age 10-24) who receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries 157,000
Percent of suicide deaths that are males 81 %
Common Misconceptions about Suicide
FALSE: People who talk about suicide won't really do it. Almost everyone who commits or attempts suicide has given some clue or warning. Do not ignore suicide threats. Statements like "you'll be sorry when I'm dead," "I can't see any way out," – no matter how casually or jokingly said -may indicate serious suicidal feelings.
FALSE: Anyone who tries to kill him/herself must be crazy. Most suicidal people are not psychotic or insane. They must be upset, grief-stricken, depressed or despairing, but extreme distress and emotional pain are not necessarily signs of mental illness.
FALSE: If a person is determined to kill him/herself, nothing is going to stop them. Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death; they want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, however overpowering, does not last forever.
FALSE: People who commit suicide are people who were unwilling to seek help. Studies of suicide victims have shown that more than half had sought medical help in the six months prior to their deaths.
FALSE: Talking about suicide may give someone the idea. You don't give a suicidal person morbid ideas by talking about suicide. The opposite is true – bringing up the subject of suicide and discussing it openly is one of the most helpful things you can do.
Source: SAVE –Suicide Awareness Voices of Education
Suicide Warning Signs
Talking about suicide
- Any talk about suicide, dying, or self-harm, such as "I wish I hadn't been born," "If I see you again..." and "I'd be better off dead."
- Seeking out lethal means
- Seeking access to guns, pills, knives, or other objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
- Preoccupation with death
- Unusual focus on death, dying, or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
- No hope for the future Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being trapped ("There's no way out"). Belief that things will never get better or change.
- Self-loathing, self-hatred
- Feelings of worthlessness, guilt, shame, and self-hatred. Feeling like a burden ("Everyone would be better off without me").
- Getting affairs in order
- Making out a will. Giving away prized possessions. Making arrangements for family members.
- Saying goodbye
- Unusual or unexpected visits or calls to family and friends. Saying goodbye to people as if they won't be seen again.
- Withdrawing from others
- Withdrawing from friends and family. Increasing social isolation. Desire to be left alone.
- Self-destructive behavior
- Increased alcohol or drug use, reckless driving, unsafe sex. Taking unnecessary risks as if they have a "death wish."
- Sudden sense of calm
- A sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed can mean that the person has made a decision to commit suicide.
Suicide risk factors include:
- Mental illness
- Alcoholism or drug abuse
- Previous suicide attempts
- Family history of suicide
- Terminal illness or chronic pain
- Recent loss or stressful life event
- Social isolation and loneliness
- History of trauma or abuse
- Childhood abuse
- Recent traumatic event
- Lack of a support network
- Availability of a gun
- Hostile social or school environment
- Exposure to other teen suicides
Ways to start a dialogue with a loved one
- I have been feeling concerned about you lately.
- Recently, I have noticed some differences in you and wondered how you are doing.
- I wanted to check in with you because you haven´t seemed yourself lately.
- When did you begin feeling like this?
- Did something happen that made you start feeling this way?
- How can I best support you right now?
- Have you thought about getting help?
- You are not alone in this. I´m here for you.
- You may not believe it now, but the way you´re feeling will change.
- I may not be able to understand exactly how you feel, but I care about you and want to help.
- When you want to give up, tell yourself you will hold off for just one more day, hour, minute´whatever you can manage.
- If you yourself or someone else is feeling suicidal, here are some risk factors to keep track of.
Level of Suicide Risk
- Low –Some suicidal thoughts. No suicide plan. Says he or she won't commit suicide.
- Moderate –Suicidal thoughts. Vague plan that isn't very lethal. Says he or she won't commit suicide.
- High –Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she won't commit suicide.
- Severe –Suicidal thoughts. Specific plan that is highly lethal. Says he or she will commit suicide.