Troubling Trend in Teen Suicide

stressed adolescentThe Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) just released a report about a new trend in teen suicide. More teens are choosing strangulation and suffocation as their method. This trend concerns government officials because suffocation is typically more lethal. Unlike attempts at poisoning, most suffocation attempts do end up killing the victim. In addition, more young women are committing suicide.

Statistics about Teen Suicide

  • Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among children and young adults ages 10 to 24.
  • In 2012, more than 5,000 teens and young adults committed suicide, and it is estimated that 500,000 attempted suicide.
  • During 1994-2012, suicide rates by suffocation increased, on average, by 6.7 percent.
  • The top three methods used in suicides of young people included firearm (45%), suffocation (40%), and poisoning (8%).
  • Boys are more likely than girls to die from suicide. Girls, however, are more likely to report attempting suicide than boys.


Warning Signs

Be aware of the warning signs for suicide:

  • Talking about, or even joking about, wanting to die
  • Talking about feeling trapped
  • Talking about feeling unbearable pain, or feeling like a burden to others
  • Writing stories or poems, or drawing pictures, about death or suicide
  • Acting anxious or agitated
  • Behaving recklessly
  • Expressing hopelessness for the future
  • Becoming socially isolated
  • Giving away prized possessions

Most people are uncomfortable with the topic of suicide, but if you see these warning signs, it is crucial that you take action.

What Parents Can Do

If you suspect your teen might be considering suicide, do not ignore your gut feeling or remain silent. Instead, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that you act quickly to prevent a tragedy:

  • Ask your teenager about it. Don’t be afraid to say the word “suicide.” Getting the word out in the open may help your teen think someone has finally heard their cries for help. Talking about suicide or suicidal thoughts will not push someone to kill him- or herself. However, take them seriously if they say that they have thought about it, since many people who talk about killing themselves, do actually try it.
  • Reassure your teen that you are there for him/her. Remind your child that you love them and that no matter how awful their problems seem, they can be worked out, and you are willing to help.
  • Ask your child to talk about their feelings. Listen carefully, without judgment or interrupting. Do not dismiss their problems or get angry at them. If you minimize what your teen is going through, it can increase their sense of hopelessness. Validate their feelings.
  • Remove all lethal weapons from your home, including guns, pills, kitchen utensils and ropes.
  • Do not leave your teen alone.
  • Seek professional help. Your doctor can refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist, or your local hospital’s Department of Psychiatry can provide a list of doctors in your area. You can also call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-8255.


Final Thoughts…

Suicide is rooted in depression. Experts say that 1 out of every 8 teens has depression but only 20% of depressed teens ever receive help. We have written blogs about teen depression that may help you to be prepared to help those loved ones that need your support.

Depression in Teens: Signs and How to Help details the signs of depression a parent should look for in their teen and how to get their child help.

Teen Depression explores the difference between “being sad” and actual depression. It also offers suggestions for natural stress relievers for teens.

What to Say to a Depressed Teen discusses how to offer comfort to someone who is depressed and not saying something inappropriate.

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