Factors That Lead to Youth Suicide

youth suicide

Adolescence is a turbulent time, but dramatic changes don’t automatically mean that someone is suicidal. A variety of factors can lead to youth suicide, including mood disorders, impulsivity, substance abuse, family issues and more. Easy access to lethal substances and tools, such as guns, can increase risk, too.

Talking about suicide is a serious warning sign that should be taken seriously, even if it seems insignificant. Other warning signs include persistent sadness or anxiety, avoiding friends and family and doing risky things.


Depression is the most common psychiatric disorder leading to youth suicide. It can cause a variety of symptoms including: persistent sadness, hopelessness and feelings of worthlessness. It can also lead to a preoccupation with death or suicidal thoughts, changes in sleeping and eating habits, difficulty concentrating and an increased irritability. It can also cause a person to self-injure with a view to taking their life or it can make them more impulsive and prone to risk taking behavior.

A mental health professional can prescribe medication or recommend psychotherapy to help with depression. It is important to remind your teen that depression is a medical illness and that they can get better with treatment. Getting help as soon as possible can reduce the severity of the condition and improve the outcome.

Substance Abuse

People with substance use disorder (SUD) focus their lives around a particular substance, such as cigarettes or alcohol. They keep using these substances even though they know they are causing them problems. The most severe form of SUD is called addiction.

SUD is associated with a wide range of health-related consequences, including homicide, suicide, accidental injuries, disease and death from drugs and alcohol. It also increases demand for community health and criminal justice resources.

Substance abuse affects brain chemistry and can cause young people to become focused on the use of substances, to the exclusion of other activities that they once enjoyed. This can lead to a feeling of hopelessness and despair. It can also affect relationships with family and friends. Ultimately, it can lead to isolation which may increase the risk of suicide.

Family Issues

In many cases, family dysfunction can contribute to suicide. It may be due to frequent arguments between parents, a sibling rivalry or the conflict of family members’ opinions. A financial crisis resulting from bank loans or debts can also be a factor. Superstitious beliefs, like believing that neighbors cause misfortunes through black magic, are also contributing factors.

Moreover, having a mental illness can increase a youth’s suicidal tendencies. Mood disorders, like depression and bipolar disorder, or eating disorders such as anorexia nervosa, can lead to suicidal feelings. Likewise, drugs can trigger a psychotic episode that can result in hallucinations and delusions.

It is important to take any threats of suicide seriously. Whether they are genuine or not, a youth needs to be taken under care immediately.


Isolation is a common factor that can lead to suicide. It’s important that children and teens have friends that they feel close to and can talk with about their problems.

Kids who talk about suicidal feelings or make threats are often dismissed as being dramatic and “a cry for attention.” But these warning signs need to be taken seriously and should never be ignored.

Many youths are isolated because they don’t have a stable family structure or they live alone. This isolation can also be caused by family conflicts or a lack of supportive peers. A study found that people who have a strong social support network are less prone to depression and more likely to be able to handle life’s difficulties. It was further found that a combination of social isolation and low socio-economic status is more likely to cause a person to experience depression or have thoughts about suicide.

Conflicts With Peers

Adolescence is a time of significant cognitive, mental and emotional change. Some of this change is good, but some is difficult. Conflicts with peers and a lack of support can lead to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, causing the youth to feel they have no other option than suicide.

A study has shown that the assertive interpersonal schema plays a role in suicidal behaviour, and it is suggested that incorporating this aspect into programs may improve their effectiveness.

Studies have found that youth suicide risk varies by sex, race and ethnicity, and age. It is also influenced by the social and cultural environment in which they live. For example, LGBTQ youth are more likely to attempt suicide than their cisgender and heterosexual peers, according to 2019 YRBS data (dark blue below). This trend remained during the pandemic.