Youth suicide

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Youth suicide is when a young person, generally categorized as someone below the legal age of majority, deliberately ends their own life. Rates of youth suicide and attempted 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][full citation needed][5]

Suicide contagion[edit]

According to research conducted 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 / 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 organizations at the forefront of preventing youth suicide. These organizations included Sunnykids,[6] Inspire, and Boys Town. The Standing Committee has since released a discussion paper highlighting the findings of their inquiry[7] and will seek to make final recommendations on the most effective means for reducing youth suicide.

Teens at risk[edit]

One of the problems facing teenagers at risk of suicide is getting psychiatric counselling when it is needed.[8] One research at the beginning of 2020 shows that Compared with older adolescents, younger adolescents particularly agree that increased cyberbullying and despair are very important factors influencing suicide among adolescents.[9] One study says, "In teenagers, depression is considered a major – if not the leading – cause of teen suicide."[10] 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.[11] Harassment is a leading cause of teen suicide, along with abuse. Gay teens or those unsure of their sexual identity are more likely to die by suicide, particularly if they have suffered bullying or harassment, as discussed next. The following campaigns have been started in hopes of giving teens hope and abolishing the feeling of isolation.

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 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.

Sexual minority youth and suicide[edit]

Youth that fall under the category of sexual minorities are at an elevated risk of depression and succumbing to self-harm. Among the population of sexual minority youth, on average, 28% explain having past experiences with suicidal actions and/or thoughts.[16] Lesbian and gay youth are the group most likely to face negative experiences, leading to a higher likelihood of the development of suicidal thoughts according to mental care professionals.[16] Bisexuality also carries a higher likelihood of suicidality with bisexuals being five times more likely to report suicidal thoughts and actions.[16] Sexual minority youth also report a higher incidence of substance abuse when compared to heterosexuals.[16] Overall, studies suggest that sexual minority youth carry a higher incidence of suicide and depression, and that reforms centered on alleviating minority stigma attenuate this disparity.[17]

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 researchers 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 have also 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] Aggression in families and its transference can be one of the main causes of transmission of suicidal tendencies in families.[20]

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.[21] Evidence shows those most at risk for suicide are those who previously attempted suicide, with research showing that they can have anywhere from a 40 to over a 100 times higher chance of dying by suicide compared to the general population.[22]

Age and experience also factor in suicide. It has been found that older, more experienced populations take more time to plan, choose deadlier methods, and have greater suicidal intent. This results in them eventually committing suicide at a higher rate than their younger counterparts.[23]

Bereavement among young people[edit]

The primary goals of suicide postvention include assisting the survivors of suicide with the grief process, along with 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 youth suicides being suicide bereavement (or contagion) related – further research and investment must be made into supporting this group of people. A few suggestions to make sure the support is effective include making the individuals feel connected and understood.[citation needed]


Two possible determinants to suicide attempts are lifetime sexual abuse and adult physical violence.[24] Among participants aged 18–25, the odds ratios for lifetime sexual abuse and adult physical violence are 4.27 and 3.85,[24] respectively. In other words, those who died by suicide are 327% more likely to have experienced lifetime sexual assault. Similarly, a suicide victim is 285% more likely to have suffered physical violence as an adult. 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.[25] Between 1980 and 1994, the suicide rates of young black males doubled. American Indians and Alaska Natives die by suicide at a higher rate than any other ethnic group in the United States.[26] In India, one-third of suicides are young people 15–29. In 2002, 154,000 suicides were recorded in India. In the United States, about 60 percent of suicides are carried out with a gun. Some Aboriginal teens and gay or lesbian teens are at high risk, depending on their community and their own self-esteem. Several campaigns have been started to give them hope and help them to feel less isolated.


One organization in Australia has found that young people who feel connected, supported, and understood are less likely to die by suicide. Reports on the attitudes of young people identified as at risk of suicide have been released.[27] Such reports support the notion that connectedness, a sense of being supported and respected, is a protective factor for young people at risk of suicide. According to Pueblo Suicide Prevention Center (PSPC) for some reason kids today are experiencing more pressure.[citation needed]

For immediate help, contact SAMHSA's National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).[28]

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.


Crisis hotlines, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, enable people to get immediate emergency telephone counselling.

One can help prevent adolescent suicide by discouraging isolation, addressing a child's depression which is correlated with suicide, getting rid of any objects that a child could use to attempt suicide, and simply paying attention to what the child does or feels.[29]

Schools are a great place to provide more education and support for suicide prevention. Since students spend the majority of their time at school, the 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.[citation needed]

Suicide Prevention Resource Center provides professional information and resources on suicide prevention.

Prevention resources for parents, guardians, social workers, teachers, school staff, peers:

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for Youth provides resources and information for teens and adolescents such as:

Table of youth suicide rates (per 100,000)[edit]

Country Year of Data Rate of Males Rate of Females Total
Sri Lanka 1986 43.9 49.3 46.5
Lithuania 2002 38.4 8.8 23.9
Russian Federation 2002 38.5 8.3 23.6
Kazakhstan 2002 31.2 10.5 21.0
Luxembourg 2002 23.5 8.2 16.0
New Zealand 2000 22.3 8.2 15.3
El Salvador 1993 13.2 15.8 14.5
Belarus 2001 23.6 3.9 14.0
Estonia 2002 24.1 1.9 13.2
Turkmenistan 1998 16.6 8.8 12.8
Ukraine 2000 19.6 4.9 12.4
Ireland 2000 19.8 4.3 12.3
Mauritius 2000 10.1 12.5 11.3
Norway 2001 15.3 6.2 10.9
Canada 2000 16.3 5.2 10.8
Latvia 2002 16.9 4.4 10.8
Kyrgyzstan 2002 15.2 4.8 10.0
Austria 2002 15.1 3.8 9.6
Trinidad and Tobago 1994 8.9 10.5 9.6
Finland 2002 15.0 3.8 9.5
Uzbekistan 2000 12.5 6.4 9.5
Belgium 1997 14.5 3.9 9.3
Cuba 1996 6.1 12.5 9.2
Ecuador 1991 6.9 11.4 9.1
Australia 2001 13.8 3.8 8.9
Singapore 2001 9.2 7.8 8.5
Poland 2001 14.1 2.4 8.4
Switzerland 2000 12.6 4.0 8.4
Croatia 2002 14.0 2.1 8.2
USA 2000 13.0 2.7 8.0
Slovenia 1987 12.0 3.1 7.6
Hungary 2002 11.2 3.8 7.5
Japan 2000 8.8 3.8 6.4
Uruguay 1990 8.3 3.9 6.2
Bulgaria 2002 9.2 2.3 5.8
Czech Republic 2001 9.5 1.8 5.7
Argentina 1996 7.1 4.0 5.6
Costa Rica 1995 7.1 4.0 5.6
Germany 2001 8.7 2.4 5.6
Thailand 1994 6.1 5.1 5.6
Colombia 1994 6.7 4.2 5.5
Venezuela 1994 7.1 3.8 5.5
Republic of Korea 2001 5.9 4.9 5.4
Hong Kong 1999 5.1 5.3 5.2
France 1999 7.5 2.5 5.0
Denmark 1999 9.0 0.7 4.9
Israel 1999 8.7 0.0 4.9
Romania 2002 7.0 2.2 4.7
Netherlands 2000 7.4 1.8 4.6
Sweden 2001 5.7 2.8 4.3
Brazil* 1995 5.7 2.6 4.2
Puerto Rico 1992 8.3 0.0 4.2
United Kingdom 1999 6.5 1.8 4.2
Republic of Moldova 2002 7.1 1.1 4.1
China* 1999 3.2 4.8 4.0
Slovakia 2002 5.8 1.9 3.9
Chile 1994 6.2 1.3 3.8
Mexico 1995 5.1 2.3 3.7
Spain 2000 5.3 1.4 3.4
Panama 1987 4.6 1.6 3.1
Albania 2001 2.8 3.3 3.0
Dominican Republic 1985 2.7 3.2 2.9
Italy 2000 3.6 1.7 2.7
Macedonia 2000 1.2 3.7 2.4
Tajikistan 1999 3.3 0.9 2.1
Portugal 2000 2.6 0.9 1.8
Greece 1999 2.7 0.6 1.7
Peru 1983 1.3 0.7 1.0

Information taken from World Psychiatry, the official journal of the World Psychiatric Association.[34] Numbers are per 100,000.

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. ^ Iype, George. South India: World's suicide capital. Rediff, 2004-04-15. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  6. ^ SunnyKids 2010
  7. ^ Federal Parliament Health and Ageing Standing Committee Inquiry into Youth Suicide Archived January 8, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ [1]The Globe and Mail, 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  9. ^ Rengasamy, Manivel; Sylvester, Christie; Shulman, Joshua; Pizon, Anthony (2020). "Contemporary Characteristics and Lethality Correlates of Serious Suicide Attempts in Children and Adolescents". Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. 50 (3): 714–723. doi:10.1111/sltb.12615. PMID 32003058. S2CID 210983176. Retrieved 2020-10-27.
  10. ^ [2]"Teen Suicide Causes and Issues," Retrieved 2012-04-26.
  11. ^ Kastenbaum, Robert J. (2012). Death, Society, and Human Experience. Boston: Pearson. pp. 199–200. ISBN 978-0-205-00108-8.
  12. ^ Rick Mercer joins the It Gets Better campaign. CBC News, 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ [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.
  15. ^ "Stop Youth Suicide Campaign". Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  16. ^ a b c d Marshal, Michael P.; Dietz, Laura J.; Friedman, Mark S.; Stall, Ron; Smith, Helen A.; McGinley, James; Thoma, Brian C.; Murray, Pamela J.; D'Augelli, Anthony R. (August 2011). "Suicidality and Depression Disparities Between Sexual Minority and Heterosexual Youth: A Meta-Analytic Review". Journal of Adolescent Health. 49 (2): 115–123. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2011.02.005. PMC 3649127. PMID 21783042.
  17. ^ Kennedy, Andrew; Genç, Murat; Owen, P. Dorian (2021). "The Association Between Same-Sex Marriage Legalization and Youth Deaths by Suicide: A Multimethod Counterfactual Analysis". Journal of Adolescent Health. 68 (6): 1176–1182. doi:10.1016/j.jadohealth.2021.01.033. ISSN 1054-139X. PMID 33812751. S2CID 233028334.
  18. ^ Swanson, Sonja; Colman, Ian (2013). "Association between exposure to suicide and suicidality outcomes in youth". Canadian Medical Association Journal. 185 (10): 870–877. doi:10.1503/cmaj.121377. PMC 3707992. PMID 23695600.
  19. ^ Niederkrotenthaler, Thomas (2012). "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. PMID 20924054. S2CID 42868869.
  20. ^ Hawton, K., Saunders, K. E., & O'Connor, R. C. (2012). Self-harm and suicide in adolescents. The Lancet, 379(9834), 2373–2382.
  21. ^ Christiansen, Erik; Jensen, Borge (2007). "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. PMID 17464707. S2CID 42612070.
  22. ^ Upadhyaya, Ajaya (1999). "Attempted Suicide in Older Depressed Patients: Effect of Cognitive Functioning". The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 7 (4): 317–20. PMID 10521164.
  23. ^ Gysin-Maillart, Anja (2016). "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)". PLOS Medicine. 13 (3): e1001968. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001968. PMC 4773217. PMID 26930055.
  24. ^ a b Fraser, Sarah; Geofroy, Dominique; Chachamovich, Eduardo (3 April 2015). "Changing Rates of Suicide Ideation and Attempts Among Inuit Youth: A Gender-Based Analysis of Risk and Protective Factors". Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior. 45 (2): 141–156. doi:10.1111/sltb.12122. PMID 25255825.
  25. ^ "Suicide Among Youth | Gateway to Health Communication | CDC". Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  26. ^ Woodward, John (2005). Teen Suicide. Greenhaven: Szumski. p. 10. ISBN 978-0-7377-2428-8.
  27. ^ Head High Fact Sheet 1 Archived August 23, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  28. ^ "Home". Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  29. ^ "Teen suicide: What parents need to know – Mayo Clinic". Retrieved 2016-10-26.
  30. ^ "The Trevor Project — Saving Young LGBTQ Lives". The Trevor Project. Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  31. ^ "You Matter". Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  32. ^ "". Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  33. ^ "Home – loveisrespect". Retrieved 2019-11-20.
  34. ^ WASSERMAN, DANUTA; CHENG, QI; JIANG, GUO-XIN (June 2005). "Global suicide rates among young people aged 15–19". World Psychiatry. 4 (2): 114–120. ISSN 1723-8617. PMC 1414751. PMID 16633527.

External links[edit]