Across the globe, rates of youth suicide are high. In many Western countries, the rate is even higher. Nevertheless, there are still some steps that can be taken to minimize this problem. Among these are prevention strategies, dealing with mental health conditions, and fostering relationships and sexual identity.
Mental health conditions
Whether it is a mental illness, substance use disorder, or other issue, youth suicide is a serious health concern. For many, it is not only a social issue but also a personal one.
Adolescents at risk may exhibit signs of anxiety, depression, substance misuse, sexual orientation, and problems with school performance. They may also have a family history of suicide.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five youths experiences a diagnosable mental health condition. These conditions include mood disorders, anxiety, and schizophrenia.
Suicide is a leading cause of death among adolescents. About one in three youths will attempt suicide. However, this risk remains high for at least a year after an attempt. In addition, a young person who has tried to commit suicide is four times more likely to attempt suicide again.
Sexual identity and relationships
Historically, studies have focused on the relationship between sexual identity and suicidality. However, it has been challenging to gather data in a way that is meaningful and representative of adolescents. Specifically, most research has been conducted on convenience samples of gay and lesbian youth. The results have largely been criticized for their lack of sample size and methodological shortcomings.
In a recent study, researchers examined the relationship between sexual orientation and suicidality among US youths. They used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. They found that youths with same-sex orientation reported higher rates of suicide, depression, and suicide attempts than their heterosexual peers.
In addition, they also found that youths with same-sex sexual orientation had significantly higher scores on critical adolescent suicide risk factors. Their study included data from 532 homeless youth.
Several studies have shown that bullying and suicide are linked. Adolescents who are bullied are more likely to develop suicidal thoughts and attempt suicide. This is one of the most serious health issues facing young people today.
The link between bullying and suicide has been investigated in a variety of cross-sectional and longitudinal designs. Some studies found that bullying was a major contributor to suicidal ideation, while others suggested that it is an indirect hazard. These studies also showed that bullying is not the only risk factor for adolescent suicide.
The link between bullying and suicide is of particular interest to child and adolescent psychiatry trainees. The link is of growing importance to mental health practitioners as more and more suicides are attributed to adolescent bullying.
Comorbidity of mental disorders
Psychiatric disorders are among the leading causes of disability and suffering in the world. They are also the leading cause of economic burden. Several research initiatives have been conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health to address this problem. Currently, one in five youth has a diagnosable mental health disorder.
Adolescents with mood and anxiety disorders are at higher risk for self-injury and suicidal behavior. They are also more likely to self-medicate with alcohol and other substances. Approximately one-third of children and adolescents with mental illness receive treatment, compared with less than one-third of the general population.
In addition, they are at higher risk for a number of physical conditions. For example, they are at greater risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes. This makes it important to understand the relationship between psychiatric illnesses and physical comorbidities.
Identifying people at risk for suicide and connecting them to the appropriate help can be lifesaving. This includes lowering barriers to getting help. It’s also a good idea to teach people about early warning signs of suicide.
Other strategies include social programs that foster emotional support and a sense of belonging. These programs can be especially helpful for students who are marginalized by race, gender, or sexual orientation.
In addition, school systems play a critical role in mitigating STB among youth. They can reduce exposure to violence and make services more convenient and culturally relevant.
A related strategy is the use of self-help tools. This includes information about coping skills and methods for conflict resolution.
A more comprehensive strategy is to increase community awareness about suicide. This may include using a multimedia presentation, which teaches audiences about warning signs of mental health conditions.