Youth Suicide – How Stressors Affect Suicidality

When a youth makes a threat to kill themselves, it needs to be taken seriously. They need to get a medical checkup to rule out life-threatening issues. They also need expert help from a counselor.

There are often many warning signs that a young person is considering suicide. They may talk about their feelings, behave erratically, be socially isolated and use drugs or alcohol.


Stressors in adolescence can increase suicidality through increasing psychological distress and eroding perceived social support. Depression, substance use, and suicide attempt attempts mediate the relationship between stressful life events and adolescent suicidality.

Physical Danger experiences are associated with suicide attempts in adolescent samples, but this association is not stronger than that of other acute stressors. Future research should determine whether the relation between physical danger and suicide attempts is distinct from the relation between other acute stressors and adolescent suicide ideation.

Mental Health Issues

Mental health issues are a major factor in youth suicide. Depression and other mood disorders can lead to suicidal thoughts or actions. The risk increases with comorbidity (having more than one condition).

Often people in the suicide group didn’t receive help because of barriers to care. These include difficulty identifying mental health problems, missing appointments, and avoidance of services. Many young people also have trouble accessing services because of their impulsiveness and ambivalence about seeking help. Moreover, they may be stigmatized by family members and health professionals.

Family Issues

Kids who have suffered significant loss (such as a loved one who commits suicide) face higher risks of suicidal thoughts and actions. Kids who are bullied, either face-to-face or online (cyberbullying), also have increased suicide risks.

In terms of family patterns, studies show that negligent and affection-less parenting and decompensated family functioning are risk factors for suicide behavior in adolescents, while secure attachment and optimal parental bonding are protective factors. However, more research is needed to clarify these findings.

Social Issues

The years of adolescence are a time of significant social and emotional change. Young people must navigate important milestones related to education, employment and relationships. They may also be dealing with concrete stressors such as bullying, mental/physical/sexual abuse and disciplinary problems in school.

Interpersonal conflicts have been associated with suicide in adolescents. Research has shown that teen girls who have poorer social problem-solving skills are at greater risk of suicidal behaviors. These issues must be addressed on the individual, family, community and societal levels.

Financial Issues

A sudden financial problem can cause someone to feel powerless and stoke feelings of suicide ideation. For example, taking time off work due to illness or having a benefit sanction can have a big impact on a person’s income.

In one study, people who reported trying to kill themselves were at higher risk of poor long-term social and economic outcomes, even after accounting for concurrent mental disorders. This suggests that adolescent suicide attempts carry an extra burden of long-term social and economic disadvantage.

Physical Health Issues

A youth might have a serious physical health issue that is causing them pain and distress. They may also be struggling with a substance use problem that is leading to physical harm.

It is important to take any suicidal threats seriously. A person might be feeling so desperate that they think that if they don’t act on their thoughts then they won’t be around anymore. It is also important to monitor medicines because some teens can experience increased suicidal thinking or behavior when taking certain medicines like antidepressants.


Addiction is a serious mental health problem that can have devastating effects on the lives of youth. It can cause them to lose control over their lives and lead to suicidal thoughts or attempts.

A new study published in PLOS ONE found that the association between suicide and substance use disorders is stronger than previously thought. Researchers analyzed data from community samples of adolescents and found that suicide was most strongly associated with alcohol abuse and dependence and frequent cigarette smoking.

Identity Issues

Teens face a variety of stressors including the death of a loved one or a suicide attempt by a friend, school-related problems, and family issues. These can lead to alcohol and drug abuse, depression and mental health symptoms like anxiety and a high risk of suicide.

Research shows that youth who are experiencing discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity have increased risks of suicide. A 2020 peer-reviewed study by The Trevor Project found that students who experienced a lack of acceptance in schools were twice as likely to report having attempted suicide.