Youth Suicide and Adolescence

Almost 1 in every 10 school age youths seriously consider suicide. 9% have actually made an attempt.

Teens who contemplate suicide are often accompanied by warning signs, such as changes in behavior, appearance and thoughts. They may also avoid activities and socializing, or talk about death.

Some of the risk factors for suicide in youth include mental disorders, previous suicide attempts, specific personality characteristics and psychosocial stressors. Protective factors can lessen the impact of these risk factors and help prevent suicide.

Risk Factors

Adolescence is a time of high transitions and change, when young people are trying to make important life choices. These transitions and changes can lead to major stress and anxiety for teens and can cause them to experience depression or other mental health problems.

Often, these symptoms can be difficult to recognize and deal with and may even seem impossible to live with. They can lead to a feeling of hopelessness and helplessness and can result in suicidal thoughts or attempts.

A person’s risk for suicide or self-harm can be affected by a variety of factors, including their age and gender, race, sexual orientation and history of past suicide attempts. They can also be affected by a person’s family history of suicide and their ability to obtain a lethal substance or weapon.

In this study, we measured real-world online activity data associated with youth suicide-related behavior using a matched case-control design. This allowed us to identify specific types of risk factors that were correlated with severe suicide/self-harm alerts. The risk factor that was most strongly associated with subsequent severe suicide/self-harm alerts in this study was depression-related content.


Adolescence is a time of major physical, social and emotional changes that can leave young people feeling overmatched. This can make them feel depressed or hopeless.

Teenagers with mental health problems, such as depression or bipolar disorder, are more likely to have suicidal thoughts. These problems are treatable, but they might take a long time to recover from.

If you or a loved one notices a teen showing any of these signs, get help right away. Call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 to speak with a trained counselor any time of day.

Many teens try to hide their feelings and thoughts. This can make it hard to recognize the warning signs.


In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death for adolescents age 15-19 years. Suicide rates have increased in the past decade for both boys and girls.

Treatment options for youth with a mental health disorder or suicide risk vary depending on the youth’s needs and their choices. They may include therapy with an evidence-based practice, peer mentoring, care coordination, medication or a combination of all.

For example, family therapy has been shown to help reduce the frequency of suicidal thoughts and behaviors. In a 12-week study, more adolescents who received attachment-based family therapy were remitted from their suicidal ideation than those receiving usual clinical management. It also helped adolescents connect to follow-up care. Another intervention called the Family Intervention for Suicide Prevention (FISP) helps to decrease continued suicidal behavior by re-framing suicidal behaviors as maladaptive coping skills within the context of a family crisis. The benefits of FISP persist 12 weeks after treatment.


Adolescence is a challenging time for many teens. It’s a critical period of brain development as well as significant transitions into adulthood, including education, work, relationships, and housing arrangements.

Suicide prevention requires a coordinated, multifaceted approach that incorporates supportive mental health services, community engagement, and prevention and intervention strategies. It also involves a school community that is familiar with risk factors and signs of suicide behavior and supports students’ social, emotional, and behavioral needs to promote positive mental health.

Providing mental health support for youth who are experiencing feelings of depression and suicidal ideation is the first step toward preventing suicide. If a child or teen expresses thoughts of suicide, they should be seen by a pediatrician or local mental health provider who treats children and teens.

In addition, parents should monitor changes in a teen’s mood and activity level. These may be signs that a youth has decided to commit suicide, and that they are making a plan for it.