Suicide Resource Center

Updated January 2024

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About

Suicide Image Suicide is a serious and growing problem among children and adolescents. Each year, thousands of young people die by suicide. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10-to-14 year-olds. 

The majority of children and adolescents who attempt suicide have a significant mental health disorder, usually depression.

Among younger children, suicide attempts are often impulsive. They may be associated with feelings of sadness, confusion and anger.

Among teenagers, suicide attempts may be associated with feelings of stress, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, disappointment and loss. For some teens, suicide may appear to be a solution to their problems.

Depression and suicidal feelings are treatable mental disorders. The child or adolescent needs to have his or her illness recognized and diagnosed, and appropriate treatment plans developed.

Parents, teachers and friends should always err on the side of caution and safety. Any child or adolescent with suicidal thoughts or plans should be evaluated immediately by a trained and qualified mental health professional.

FAQs

How common is suicide in children and adolescents?

Over 7,100 young people commit suicide each year. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among young people 10 to 24 years of age, following unintentional injuries. For each completed suicide, there are several thousand attempts. Surveys of high school students indicate that 22% of high schoolers seriously consider suicide each year, and by the end of high school, at least 10% of all children have actually made at least one suicide attempt. Although girls are twice as likely to attempt suicide, boys actually account for almost 80% of all suicide related deaths.

What causes suicide in children and adolescents?

Thoughts about suicide and suicide attempts are often most often associated with depression. In addition to depression, other risk factors include:

  • Family history of suicide attempts
  • Exposure to violence
  • Impulsivity
  • Aggressive or disruptive behavior
  • Access to firearms
  • Substance abuse
  • Bullying
  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Acute loss or rejection
What are the warning signs associated with child and adolescent suicide?

Among both children and adolescents, the warning signs of suicide can include:

  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Frequent or pervasive sadness
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and regular activities
  • Frequent complaints about physical symptoms often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • Decline in the quality of schoolwork
  • Preoccupation with death and dying

Among teenagers, the warning signs of suicide can also include:

  • Drug or alcohol use
  • Violent actions, rebellious behavior or running away
  • Unusual neglect of personal appearance
  • Marked personality change
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities

Young people who are thinking about suicide may also stop planning for or talking about the future. They may begin to give away important possessions. They may also make overtly suicidal statements or comments such as, "I wish I was dead," or "I won't be a problem for you much longer."

Any child or adolescent with suicidal thoughts, plans or warning signs should be evaluated immediately by a trained and qualified mental health professional.

What should I do if my child or adolescent talks about suicide?

If a child or adolescent says, "I want to kill myself" or "I'm going to commit suicide" always take the statement seriously and immediately seek assistance from a qualified mental health professional. People often feel uncomfortable talking about suicide. However, asking the child or adolescent whether he or she is depressed or thinking about suicide can be helpful. Rather than putting thoughts in the child's head, such a question will provide assurance that you care and will give the young person the chance to talk about his or her problems.

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Facts for Families

FFF

AACAP's Facts for Families provides concise up-to-date information on issues that affect children, teenagers, and their families.

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Video Clips

Teen Suicide Prevention - The Mayo Clinic

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Clinical Resources

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Research & Training

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Books

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Getting Help

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

  • The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline (formerly known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline) provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, across the United States. When people call, text or chat with the 988 Lifeline, they are connected to trained counselors that are part of the 988 Lifeline network, made up of over 200 local crisis centers. These counselors are trained to provide free and confidential emotional support and crisis counseling to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress, and to connect them with additional resources.

 

 

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