Teen Suicide Facts

No family should have to bear what psychologist and author Kay Redfield Jamison describes as “an almost unfathomable kind of loss…Suicide causes in its aftermath a level of confusion and devastation that is, for the most part, beyond description.”
According to David Satcher, M.D., former Surgeon General of the United States, “Suicide is a national public health problem” and “Suicide is our most preventable form of death.” More teenagers die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza, and chronic lung disease combined  (National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action, 2001).

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth ages 15 to 24.

The Ohio Department of Mental Health reports that over 20 percent of high school students have seriously considered suicide, 14 percent have made a plan, and 8 percent have made a suicide attempt.

Fourteen percent of American youth aged 12-17 (3.5 million youth) experienced at least one episode of major depressive disorder in the past year (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2004).  Over 7 percent, an estimated 1.8 million youths, thought about killing themselves at the time of their worst or most recent episode of major depressive disorder.  Ninety percent of people who die by suicide suffered from a treatable mental disorder at the time of their death (mood disorder, substance abuse and often both).

States spend nearly $1 billion annually on medical costs associated with completed suicides and suicide attempts by youth up to 20 years of age  (NGA Center for Best Practices, Youth Suicide Prevention: Strengthening State Policies and School-Based Strategies).

Suicides By Age

Age Group Number of Suicides Population Rate
5-14 184 40,128,842 0.5
15-24 4,140 42,407,421 9.7

Figures from the National Center for Health Statistics for the year 2007.
All rates are per 100,000 population.

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