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Prevalence of Youth Suicide and Suicide Prevention

June 21, 2018 | SAMHSA TA Tidbits

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for American youth ages 15-19 and the third leading cause for youth ages 10-24. Rates of suicidal ideation and attempted suicide are also high. In a recent national survey, 17% of high school students reported seriously considering suicide and 7% reported attempting suicide in the 12 months prior to the survey.

Rates of suicidal ideation and attempted suicide are also high. In a recent national survey, 17% of high school students reported seriously considering suicide and 7% reported attempting suicide in the 12 months prior to the survey.
Certain subpopulations are disproportionately affected by suicide. For example, boys are more likely to die from a suicide attempt, whereas girls are more likely to report attempting suicide. The highest rates of suicide are among Native American/Alaskan Native youth. Hispanic youth are also more likely to attempt suicide as compared to black and white non-Hispanic youth.
Identifying early warning signs can be key in preventing youth suicides. In 2015, a panel of national and international experts met to identify common warning signs that preceded an incident of youth suicide, based on a literature review, a survey of youth suicide attempt survivors, and focus groups of youth and parents. They identified the following as early warning signs:
  1. Talking about or making plans for suicide.
  2. Expressing hopelessness about the future.
  3. Displaying severe/overwhelming emotional pain or distress.
  4. Showing worrisome behavioral cues or marked changes in behavior, particularly in the presence of the warning signs above. Specifically, this includes significant:
  • Withdrawal from or changing in social connections/situations
  • Changes in sleep (increased or decreased)
  • Anger or hostility that seems out of character or out of context
  • Recent increased agitation or irritability
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also identifies seeking a way to kill oneself and increased substance abuse as additional warning signs. While much of the research into suicide prevention strategies focuses on adults, responding to early warning signs, screening at-risk youth, and restricting lethal means (i.e., reducing access to methods used for suicide, such as firearms or medications) may also be effective prevention strategies among youth at risk for suicide.
If you or someone you know needs immediate help, there are several crisis lines available:

 

General Resources
Resources for Specific Populations
This announcement is funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) through the National Training and Technical Assistance Center for Child, Youth and Family Mental Health (NTTAC), operated by the National Technical Assistance Network for Children’s Behavioral Health (TA Network). 

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