Teen suicide is a significant public health problem in the U.S.. It is the third-leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24, surpassed only by homicide and accidents, according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention/CDC.
One in five teenagers in the U.S. seriously considers suicide annually, according to data collected by the CDC. In 2012, 8 percent of adolescents attempted suicide, representing approximately 1 million teenagers, of whom nearly 300,000 receive medical attention for their attempt. Approximately 1,700 teenagers die by suicide each year. Currently, the most effective suicide prevention programs equip mental health professionals and other community educators and leaders with sufficient resources to recognize who is at risk and who has access to mental health care.
According to experts, suicidal distress can be caused by psychological, environmental and social factors. However, mental illness is the leading risk factor for suicide.
Suicide risk-factors vary with age, gender, ethnic group, family dynamics and stressful life events. According to a report distributed by the National Institute of Mental Health, research shows that risk factors for suicide include depression and other mental disorders as well as substance-abuse disorders (often in combination with other mental disorders). More than 90 percent of people who die by suicide have these risk factors.
The risk for suicide frequently occurs in combination with external circumstances that seem to overwhelm at-risk teens who are unable to cope with the challenges of adolescence because of predisposing vulnerabilities such as trauma, depression, addiction, and anxiety.
Examples of stressors are interpersonal losses, family conflict and violence, sexual orientation confusion, physical and sexual abuse, social isolation, and being the victim of bullying.
Fortunately, research also has demonstrated that suicide prevention programs and mental health intervention can reverse suicidal thinking and decrease self-destructive behavior, including suicide attempts.
Christopher Mulligan LCSW offers a variety of clinical options for suicidal teens that have a proven track record of effectiveness: group therapy, family therapy, individual therapy, and school consultation.