Facts about suicide in adolescents and young adults

According to the National Alliance of Mental Health, each year in the U.S., approximately 2 million adolescents attempt suicide. In people under the age of 25:

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death
  • Adolescent females are more likely to attempt suicide
  • Males are much more likely to complete suicide than females
  • Firearms and suffocation were the two most common methods of suicide

Risk factors

Identified factors that may increase the risks for suicide and attempted suicide in young people include:

  • Prior suicide attempt
  • Mental or substance abuse disorders
  • Hopelessness
  • Impulsive and/or aggressive tendencies
  • Easy access to lethal methods, especially guns
  • Family history of suicide
  • Exposure to suicide of a family member, friend or another significant person
  • History of abuse
  • Impaired parent-child relationships
  • Life stressors, especially interpersonal losses and legal or disciplinary problems
  • Lack of involvement in school and/or work

What to watch for

  • Talking about suicide
  • Looking for ways to harm oneself
  • Preoccupation with death or dying
  • Hopelessness
  • Reckless and risky behavior
  • Feeling trapped
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Feeling a lack of purpose in life

When to act

If someone tells you they are thinking about suicide, act immediately.

  • Take them seriously
  • Listen
  • Don’t leave them alone
  • Help them get to a professional for an evaluation and treatment

If necessary, take emergency steps to get help, such as calling 911. When someone is in a suicidal crisis, it is important to limit access to firearms or other potential tools for committing suicide, including prescription and over-the-counter medications.

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