Teenage Suicide: One of America’s Best Kept Secrets

The New York Times recently reported “that the nation’s suicide rate (11 victims per 100,000 inhabitants) is almost precisely what it was in 1965.  In 2005, according to the Injury Control Research Center, approximately 32,000 Americans committed suicide, or nearly twice the number of those killed by homicide.”

Yet according to the Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,”young adults aged 10 -24 years of age accounted for 4,599 deaths.  During 1990-2003, the combined suicide rate for persons aged 10 – 24 declined.  However from 2003 to 2004, the rate increased by 8.0%, (emphasis added) the largest single-year increase. The suicide rates for three sex-age groups (females aged 10-14years and 15-19 years and males aged 15-19) rose significantly from otherwise declining trends.  Suicides both by hanging/suffocation and poisoning  among females. rose significantly.”

Suicide is the eleventh leading cause of death in the United States but the 3rd leading cause among youths and young adults.  Even though suicide rates have fallen in the US, young people have been committing more suicides with dramatic increases among females.  Over 14.7% of all suicides are now being committed by youths and young adults.

The warning signs to look for are:

  1. previous suicide attempts.
  2. history of depression
  3. alcohol or drug abuse
  4. family history of suicide
  5. physical illness
  6. feelings of loneliness.

If a young person tells you that they are contemplating suicide, treat it seriously.  If you cannot help, find someone who can, ie. a counselor social worker or the school’s principal.