Watch Dr. Sylvia Gearing examine why the rate of teen suicide is continuing to climb even though we know more about teen suicide than ever - click here.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in five US teenagers considers suicide every year.
Psychologists know more about suicide than ever, but the rate of teen suicide has climbed steadily over the generations and is now the third leading causing of death for Americans from 15 to 24 years of age. So, why does the rate of teen suicide continue to grow even though Americans are taking more action than ever to stop suicides?
Part of the answer is that teen depression and anxiety are reaching epidemic levels. Research has found that teen depression has increased tenfold over the last century and it strikes a full decade earlier than it did fifty years ago. That means that this generation is ten times more likely to reach clinical levels of depression, and they will likely become depressed when they are still children. In addition once depression and anxiety have set up shop in your child’s mind, they are more likely to return in the future. Severe depression reoccurs about 50% of the time.
Swept Under The Rug:
Even though suicide attempts indicate very serious mental health issues, very few suicidal teens actually receive professional treatment. According to research, 60-80% of American teens who attempt suicide do not seek out professional treatment until after the second suicide attempt. Their friends and family downplay the suicide attempt and try to make it a temporary anomaly. Hopefully, they don’t wait until it’s too late.
Eighty-four percent of completed suicides, or attempts that end in death, are committed by boys. Girls are much more likely to attempt suicide, but boys tend to use much more violent and lethal means in their attempts. They may use a gun, intentionally wreck their car, or even jump off of buildings. Girls tend to use much less violent methods such as poison or overdosing.
If you are worried about your teen, here are some suicide warning signs to watch out for:
- Stressful life event or loss like a relationship breakup
- Easy access to lethal means
- Lack of effective coping skills
- Family history of suicide
- History of depression or other mental illness
- Alcohol or drug use
- Exposure to the suicidal behavior of peers or acquaintances
- Increased withdrawal from others
- Increased rate of angry outbursts
- Increased need for sleep
- Low appetite
- Dramatic mood swings
- History of previous suicide attempts
Clinical depression and suicide are very serious issues. If you are worried about someone you know, please seek the assistance of a clinical psychologist.
"Learned Optimism" by Martin Seligman, Ph.D.
"Unraveling the Mystery of Suicide" by By Tori DeAngelis, American Psychological Association
"Suicide Among Pre-Adolescents" by Michael Price, American Psychological Association
"Teen Suicide is Preventable" published by the American Psychological Association
American Association of Suicidology, www.suicidology.org
National Institute of Mental Health, nimh.nih.gov