Youth Suicide Fact Sheet

Posted on October 28, 2013, in Suicide

Suicide ranks as the third leading cause of death for young people (behind accidents and homicide). For those between ages 15-19, suicide is the second leading cause of death. For children under 12 years suicide is the eighth leading cause of death. Each year, there are approximately 14 suicides for every 100,000 adolescents. Below are some facts about youth suicide.

  • Approximately 14 young people between the ages of 15-24 die every day by suicide.
  • Every hour and 40 minutes, a person under the age of 25 completes suicide.
  • Over the past 35 years, the youth suicide rate has tripled!
  • Firearms remain the most commonly used suicide method among youth, regardless of race or gender, accounting for two of every three completed suicides.
  • Research has shown that access to or the availability of firearms is a significant factor in the increase of youth suicide.
  • Research has shown that most adolescent suicides occur in the afternoon or early evening, in the home of the victim.
  • 7-16 percent of adolescents report a lifetime history of suicide attempts.
  • Fourteen percent of all adolescents have stated on self-report surveys that they have attempted suicide; the true figure may be higher.
  • A prior suicide attempt is an important risk factor for an eventual completion.
  • The typical female adolescent attempter ingests pills, while the typical male adolescent completer dies of a gunshot wound.
  • Not all adolescent attempters may admit to their intent. Therefore, any deliberate self-harming behaviors should be considered serious and in need of further evaluation.
  • The intent of most adolescent attempters appears to be to change the behaviors and/or attitudes of others, not to end their life; unfortunately rescue isn’t always possible.

Up to 60 percent of high school students report having suicidal ideations. Suicide risk factors for students include, but are not limited to:

  • Has specific plan or is talking about ending life.
  • Witness to a traumatic incident.
  • History of physical/sexual abuse.
  • Poor impulse control.
  • Stated fear of losing control.
  • Real or perceived lack of adult/parent support.
  • Constricted thinking (uses either/or, always/never – “It’s always this way. It’s never going to change.” “Either she stays my girlfriend or I’ll kill myself.”)
  • Expresses hopelessness.
  • Verbally turns against self – “I’m no good. I’ll never be worth anything.”
  • Eating problems – either eating too much or too little.
  • Sleeping problems – sleeping too much or too little; waking up too early.
  • Social withdrawal – decreased involvement with friends and activities.
  • Decrease in self-care – appearance looks messier, schoolwork done with less care, failing grades.
  • Crying easily for no apparent reason; verbal expressions such as, “I can’t take it anymore.” or “You would be better off without me.”; talking about joining someone who is already dead.
  • Getting things in order – accomplishing tasks previously postponed, giving away possessions, giving a goodbye note to a friend to give to a family member “in a couple of days.”
  • Increased frequency of drug/alcohol abuse.
  • Collecting pills, access to guns.
  • Sudden dramatic improvement after a period of depression or serious problems.
  • Recent loss – death (natural, accidental, or suicide) of a family member or friend, or anniversary of a death, failure at school or job, break up of relationship with boyfriend or girlfriend, argument with parent, family member, or friend.
  • Previous suicide attempt and/or family history of suicide.

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