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Suicide is the third leading cause of death of young persons aged 15-24 (1). That is about 10 teenagers out of 100,000 who decide to kill themselves. Numbers tend to stick with us. In 2001, 3,971 suicides were reported in this group of teens ages 15-24 (1).

While these numbers are incredibly alarming, we can look at even more specific facts about teen suicide. For example, suicide was also the third leading cause for young adults ages 10 to 14, about 1.5 per 100,000 (1). Among young people 20 to 24 years of age, the suicide rate was 12 out of every 100,000.

Racial and Gender Differences and Firearms

Of the total number of suicides among teens ages 15 to 24 in 2001, 86% were male and 14% were female (1). The great difference between male teen suicide and female teen suicide rates is because males use firearms more to commit suicide than females (who use pills more) and succeed at suicide more than females.

According to American Psychiatric Association (2), four times as many teen males succeed at killing themselves than women; however, three times as many teen females attempt suicide. In 2001, firearms were used in 54% of youth suicides.

According to Child Trends Databank, among males, suicide rates in 2003 were highest among the following:

  • Native American (24.7 per 100,000) 
  • Non-Hispanic whites (13.3 per 100,000) 
  • Hispanics at 9.2 per 100,000 
  • Asians at 6.7 per 100,000 
  • Blacks at 6.6 per 100,000.

Among females: 

  • Native Americans had the highest rate of suicide at 9.0 per 100,000 
  • Non-Hispanic whites at 3.0 per 100,000 
  • Asians at 2.5 per 100,000 
  • Blacks at 0.9 per 100,000

Depression and Alcohol Abuse Statistics

According to the American Psychiatric Association (2), over - of all young persons who suffer from depression will eventually attempt suicide at least once. Of the more than - of young persons who attempt suicide due to depression, more than 7% will die as a result. 53% of teens who commit suicide abused alcohol.

Previous Suicide Attempts

Teens that have attempted suicide in the past are likely to attempt suicide again; in fact, according to the National Youth Violence Prevention Center (3), about 1/3 of all teen suicide victims have tried to commit suicide before.

High Risk Groups

According to the Youth Suicide Prevention Program (YSPP), Native American youth have the highest rates of suicide among ethnic groups. Gay youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people (4). A higher risk of suicide attempts for gay and lesbian youth has clearly been shown; however, there are no studies that show an elevated risk of death by suicide for gay and lesbian youth.

Alarming Numbers

Ten teenagers out of 100,000 decide to kill themselves. These numbers cannot be ignored. Educating our teens about suicide in school and at home can help reduce these numbers, while allowing teens to express their feelings and communicate their problems freely with someone can help save their lives as well. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide please call 1-800-SUICIDE for more information.

Teen Suicide Statistics Sources:

  1. National Institute of Mental Health [online] 
  2. American Psychiatric Association [online] 
  3. National Youth Violence Prevention Center [online] 
  4. Wikipedia [online]
 
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