Youth suicide

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Youth suicide is when a young person, generally categorized as someone below age 21, deliberately ends their own life. Rates of attempted and completed youth suicide in Western societies and other countries are high. Youth suicide attempts are more common among girls, but adolescent males are the ones who usually carry out suicide.[1] Suicide rates in youths have nearly tripled between the 1960s and 1980s.[2] For example, in Australia suicide is second only to motor vehicle accidents as its leading cause of death for people aged 15–25,[3] and according to the National Institute for Mental Health, suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens in the United States.[4] Based on a survey done on American high school students, 16% reported considering suicide and 8% reported attempting suicide sometime within the 12 months before taking the survey.[5] Between 1980 and 1994, the suicide rates of young black males doubled. American Indians and Alaska Natives commit suicide at a higher rate than any other ethnic group in the United States.[6] In India, one-third of suicides are young people 15–29. In 2002, 154,000 suicides were recorded in India.[7]

Suicide contagion[edit]

According to research carried in by the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian in 2007, 39% of all youth suicides are completed by young people who have lost someone of influence or significance to them to suicide. The Commission terms this suicide contagion and makes several recommendations as to the importance of safeguarding young people and communities from suicide contagion.

In 2011 the Australian Federal Parliament Standing Committee for Health and Ageing Inquiry into Youth Suicide met in a round table forum with young representatives from three organisations at the forefront of preventing youth suicide, including Sunnykids,[8] Inspire, and Boys Town. The Standing Committee has since released a discussion paper highlighting the findings of their inquiry[9] and will seek to make final recommendations on the most effective means for reducing youth suicide at the conclusion of their inquiry.

Teens at risk[edit]

One of the problems is getting psychiatric counseling when it's needed.[10] "In teenagers, depression is considered a major - if not the leading - cause of teen suicide."[11] Factors and risks contributed to youth suicide are academic pressure, alcohol consumption, the loss of a valued relationship, frequent change of residency, and poor family patterns.[12] Gay teens or those unsure of their sexual identity are more likely to commit suicide, particularly if they have suffered bullying or harassment. In the United States, about 60 percent of suicides are carried out with a gun so risk of suicide increases in households with a firearm.[13] In Canada, almost 300 young people take their lives each year. Some Aboriginal teens and gay or lesbian teens are at high risk, depending on their community and their own self-esteem.[14] Several campaigns have been started to give them hope and help them to feel less isolated.

  • It Gets Better[15]
  • Born This Way[16]
  • I Get Bullied Too[17]

Lack of impulse control has been found to differentiate adolescent suicide attempters from a control group of adolescents with an acute illness (Slap, Vorters, Chaudhuri, & Centor, 1988). However, impulsivity does not seem to characterize all suicide attempters, since group comparisons have found no differences between suicidal patients and psychiatric controls on a measure of cognitive impulsivity (Patsiokas, Clum, & Luscomb, 1979). Instead, impulsivity may be important in identifying high risk subgroups

Previous exposure, attempts, and age impacting youth suicide[edit]

Exposure to suicide, previous attempts of suicide, and age are some of the most influential factors of young individuals and their probability of dying by suicide. Adolescent exposure to suicide through classmates has caused researches to hypothesize suicide as a contagion. They note how a child’s exposure to suicide predicts suicide ideation and attempts.[18] Previous exposure to suicide through parental attempts of suicide also have been found to have a 3.5 increase in a youth’s probability of having suicidal thoughts, with a 2.6 increased chance of them attempting suicide.[19]

Previous attempts of suicide also play a major role in a youth attempting suicide again. On average, it has been recorded that the follow-up period for suicide-attempters was 3.88 years.[20] Evidence shows that the primary suspects for suicide are those who failed in their original attempts at suicide, with research claiming that those previously attempting suicide can have anywhere from a 40 to over a 100 times higher chance of dying by suicide compared to that of the general population.[21]

Age and experience however, also factors into suicide. It has been found that older, more experienced populations take more time to plan, choosing deadlier methods, and having greater suicidal intent, which results in them eventually committing suicide at a higher rate than the younger suicide attempters.[22]

Bereavement among young people[edit]

The primary goals of suicide postvention include assisting the survivors of suicide with the grief process, and identifying and referring those survivors who may be at risk for negative outcomes such as depressive and anxiety disorders, and suicidal behaviour. With 42% of completed youth suicides being suicide bereavement (or contagion) related - further research and investment must be made into supporting this group of people, as they may represent the single largest potential reduction in youth suicide rates, if they receive effective support, feel connected, supported and understood. Harassment is a leading cause of teen suicide, along with abuse.


One organization in Australia has found that young people who feel connected, supported and understood are less likely to commit suicide. Reports on the attitudes of young people identified as at risk of suicide have been released.[23] Such reports support the notion that connectedness, a sense of being supported and respected are protective factors for young people at risk of suicide. According to Pueblo Suicide Prevention Center (PSPC) for some reason kids today are experiencing more pressure.

Issues for communities[edit]

Intervention issues for communities to address include: suicide contagion, developmental understanding of suicide, development and suicide risk, and the influence of culture. Key matters in postvention responses for young people include: community context, life stage relevance of responses, identification and referral (Postvention Co-ordination), developing a suite of services, and creating ongoing options.


One can help prevent adolescent suicide by discouraging isolation, address a child's depression which is correlated with suicide, get rid of any objects that a child could use to commit suicide, and simply paying attention to what the child does or feels.[24]

Schools are a great place to provide more education and support on suicide prevention since students spend majority of their time at school, school can be either a haven from or a source of suicidal triggers, and students' peers can heavily influence their state of mind. The school setting is an ideal environment to educate students on suicide and have support readily available.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Youth Suicide Risk and Preventive Interventions: A Review of the Past 10 Years". Research Update Review. 
  2. ^ Kastenbaum, Robert J. (2012). Death, Society, and Human Experience. Boston: Pearson. p. 198. ISBN 978-0-205-00108-8. 
  3. ^ Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian
  4. ^ National Institute [for] Mental Health
  5. ^ "Suicide Among Youth | Gateway to Health Communication | CDC". Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  6. ^ Woodward, John (2005). Teen Suicide. Greenhaven: Szumski. p. 10. ISBN 0-7377-2428-5. 
  7. ^ Iype, George. South India: World's suicide capital. Rediff, 2004-04-15. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  8. ^ SunnyKids 2010
  9. ^ Federal Parliament Health and Ageing Standing Committee Inquiry into Youth Suicide Archived January 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  10. ^ [1]The Globe and Mail, 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  11. ^ [2]"Teen Suicide Causes and Issues," Retrieved 2012-04-26.
  12. ^ Kastenbaum, Robert J. (2012). Death, Society, and Human Experience. Boston: Pearson. pp. 199–200. ISBN 978-0-205-00108-8. 
  13. ^ "About Teen Suicide". Retrieved 2016-10-26. 
  14. ^ (Reference to come)
  15. ^ Rick Mercer joins the It Gets Better campaign. CBC News, 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  16. ^ Born This Way Paul V. creates a safe online haven for LGBT teens as a suicide prevention measure. Huffington Post, 2011-10-12. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  17. ^ [3] Kiwi Commons created the “I Get Bullied Too!” campaign to help amplify the voices of bullying and digital abuse victims, 2011-10-01. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  18. ^ Swanson, Sonja; Colman, Ian. "Association between exposure to suicide and suicidality outcomes in youth". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 185.10: 870. 
  19. ^ Niederkrotenthaler, Thomas. "Exposure to Parental Mortality and Markers of Morbidity, and the Risks of Attempted and Completed Suicide in Offspring: an Analysis of Sensitive Life Periods". Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 66 (3): 233–239. doi:10.1136/jech.2010.109595. 
  20. ^ Christiansen, Erik; Jensen, Borge. "Risk Of Repetition Of Suicide Attempt, Suicide Or All Deaths After An Episode Of Attempted Suicide: A Register-Based Survival Analysis". Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry. 41.3: 257–265. doi:10.1080/00048670601172749. 
  21. ^ Upadhyaya, Ajaya. "Attempted Suicide in Older Depressed Patients: Effect of Cognitive Functioning". The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry: 317–20. 
  22. ^ Gysin-Maillart, Anja. "A Novel Brief Therapy for Patients Who Attempt Suicide: A 24-Months Follow-Up Randomized Controlled Study of the Attempted Suicide Short Intervention Program (ASSIP)". 
  23. ^ Head High Fact Sheet 1 Archived August 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  24. ^ "Teen suicide: What parents need to know - Mayo Clinic". Retrieved 2016-10-26. 

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