Youth Suicide Prevention

Teenagers (ages 13-20) are at highest risk for suicide. This is largely because of their unique developmental stage during which they are undergoing numerous life transitions, such as changing schools, relationships, and peer groups.

Suicide is a tragic and avoidable loss of life for young people. The key is to detect and respond to warning signs in a timely manner.

Risk factors

Suicide is one of the most common causes of death among children and adolescents (13-20 years). Young people are often vulnerable to mental health problems, especially during their adolescence.

Risk factors include a family history of suicide, mental illness, depression or substance use. They also include a child’s physical health, social environment, and culture.

Some risk factors can be changed. Others are out of a person’s control, such as having a history of violence or abuse.

A person’s environment can also affect their risk of suicide, including where they live and how safe they feel. Increasing awareness about risk and protective factors can help people recognize early signs of suicide or suicide attempts, so they can get the care they need.


There are many things that can cause a teen to think about suicide. These include their personal experiences, family history and other problems, like a mental health condition.

Some teens are able to tell you about their thoughts of suicide, but others hide them from friends and families. They may be ashamed or feel that others will think they are a burden.

If you suspect that a teen is thinking about suicide, talk to them and get them help right away. This could save their life.

Depression is common among teens, and many people with a mental health problem have suicidal thoughts or attempts. It is important to talk with your teen about the possibility of depression, because it can be treatable and help them get better.

Teens who are feeling depressed are often withdrawn or have trouble with relationships, school or sleeping. They may act irrationally or show signs of anger and aggression.


There are a variety of treatment options available for suicidal youths, including medication and social support interventions. However, there is a lag between scientific advances in suicide risk and clinical care for many adolescents.

There is a need to improve research and resources to support evidence-based care of suicidal youth. This will allow clinicians to emergently treat suicidal youth and reduce the risk of death and distress.

Medications can provide immediate relief to many of the symptoms associated with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. However, it is important to consider comorbidities, co-occurring disorders, and the lethality of medications when developing a treatment plan.

In addition, family-based interventions are increasingly gaining attention. This approach involves highlighting the strengths and protective factors of the family as well as acknowledging stressors related to environmental conditions, immigration issues, racial discrimination, acculturation difficulties between families and caregivers, and socioeconomic and language barriers. It also helps therapists conceptualize a case and establish treatment goals.


Youth suicide is a priority and it’s important for everyone involved in the lives of adolescents to know the warning signs, risk factors, and strategies for prevention. School administrators, teachers, parents, students, and healthcare providers can all play a role in promoting youth mental health and preventing suicide.

A young person who is having suicidal thoughts and/or attempts should be seen by a qualified youth counsellor as soon as possible to receive professional support and help. It is also a good idea to have the teenager removed from any potentially lethal substances/weapons in the home environment.

A good relationship with the teenager and his/her parents is also a vital safety valve for a depressed or troubled teenager. Sensitive listening, positive advice, and debriefing are helpful to prevent despair and suicidal ideation.