Youth Suicide – A Serious Public Health Problem

youth suicide

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 29 (after accidents and homicide).

According to CDC data, over the past year, 18.8% of youth seriously considered suicide, 15.1% made a suicide plan, and 2.5% made an attempt that required medical attention.

Suicide is a complex problem that involves many different factors.


During adolescence, young people are often confronted with changes in their bodies, thoughts and emotions. These can be upsetting and lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, confusion and depression.

Teenagers who are struggling to deal with problems in school, family or relationships may consider suicide. They feel alone, hopeless and rejected and might see death as the only way out of their pain.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens and young adults ages 15-to-24. The most common mental health disorder in this age group is depression, but some adolescents also have other conditions that may increase their risk of suicide.

The causes of suicide among youth are not fully understood, but certain factors can be helpful in identifying those at risk for suicidal thoughts or attempts. For example, even relatively infrequent use of alcohol or drugs can be a warning sign. Similarly, frequent fighting or other conduct problems can signal that the youth is feeling anxious and depressed.


When a youth shows these signs, it is time to seek professional help. A teen who is thinking about suicide needs to be evaluated by a psychiatrist, psychologist or counselor.

Adolescents who are depressed or suicidal are often feeling alone, hopeless and rejected. They are especially vulnerable to these feelings if they have experienced a loss, humiliation or trauma.

Family problems, such as divorce, custody disputes, parental alcohol or drug abuse, or parental violence may increase the risk for suicide. Girls are also at a higher risk than boys.

Warning signs include expressing suicidal thoughts and making a plan to commit suicide. If your teen is showing any of these symptoms, call 911 or go to an emergency room for evaluation.


There are a variety of effective treatment approaches for youth suicide. These include CAST, a psychosocial intervention for suicidal behavior that has been shown to be effective in a variety of settings.

The treatment model also emphasizes building a positive therapeutic alliance. This requires a therapist to understand and work with the patient’s unique strengths and vulnerabilities in order to address their treatment needs.

Moreover, treatment should focus on prevention, which means developing a plan to address any issues that are causing the adolescent to have suicidal thoughts or attempt suicide. This is important for preventing further suicide attempts and saving lives.

A number of research studies have been conducted to determine what preventive factors are linked to reduced risk for suicidal behavior among youth. Several protective factors, such as family cohesion and social support, have been identified.


Youth suicide is a serious public health problem that affects all ages, and some groups are at higher risk than others. Among adolescents and young adults, males are more likely to die by suicide than females.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youth are also more likely to attempt suicide than their straight peers. The CDC estimates that every 100 minutes a teen commits suicide.

Suicide prevention programs can help reduce youth suicide rates by promoting healthy development and resilience. Universal suicide prevention programs aim to target whole populations of youth regardless of their individual risk factors. These programs focus on preventing youth suicide by developing supportive school environments that promote students’ well-being and by identifying and providing support for vulnerable youths.