The reasons behind a teen's suicide or attempted suicide can be complex. Although suicide is relatively rare among children, the rate of suicides and suicide attempts increases tremendously during adolescence.Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), after accidents and homicide. It's also thought that at least 25 attempts are made for every completed teen suicide.The risk of suicide increases dramatically when kids and teens have access to firearms at home, and nearly 60% of all suicides in the United States are committed with a gun. That's why any gun in your home should be unloaded, locked, and kept out of the reach of children and teens.
Overdose using over-the-counter, prescription, and non-prescription medicine is also a very common method for both attempting and completing suicide. It's important to monitor carefully all medications in your home. Also be aware that teens will "trade" different prescription medications at school and carry them (or store them) in their locker or backpack.
Suicide rates differ between boys and girls. Girls think about and attempt suicide about twice as often as boys, and tend to attempt suicide by overdosing on drugs or cutting themselves. Yet boys die by suicide about four times as often girls, perhaps because they tend to use more lethal methods, such as firearms, hanging, or jumping from heights.
Factors that increase the risk of suicide among teens include:
- a psychological disorder, especially depression, bipolar disorder, and alcohol and drug use (in fact, approximately 95% of people who die by suicide have a psychological disorder at the time of death).
- feelings of distress, irritability, or agitation.
- feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness that often accompany depression.
- a previous suicide attempt.
- a family history of depression or suicide.
- emotional, physical, or sexual abuse.
- lack of a support network, poor relationships with parents or peers, and feelings of social isolation.
- dealing with bisexuality or homosexuality in an unsupportive family or community or hostile school environment.