Suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in the US, with 31204 deaths recorded in 1995. This approximates to around one death every seventeen minutes. There are more suicides than homicides each year in the United States. In 1993, the suicide rate was 11.3/100,000, and suicide accounted for 1.4% of all deaths (56% of deaths were from heart disease and tumors). Two-thirds of all suicides under 25 were committed with firearms (accounting for most of the increase in suicides from 1980 to 1992). The second most common method was hanging, third was poisoning. 61% of all suicides involve firearms. From 1952 to 1992, the incidence of suicide among teens and young adults tripled. Today, it is the third leading cause of death for teenagers aged 15-19 (after motor vehicle accidents and unintentional injury). Suicide is increasing, particularly for those under 14 and for those over 65. In young people, the suicide rate is relatively low (13.5/100,000 in 1993), but it is still a leading cause of death. In older people, the suicide rate is very high, but it is not a leading cause of death (e.g. in white males over 85, the suicide rate in 1993 was 73.6/100,000). In all age groups, men commit suicide successfully more than women (around four times as much). In young people (15-24), the average ratio is 5.5:1. The ratio increases with age within this group.



Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students.

Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among all those 15-24 years old.

Suicide is the 4th leading cause of death among all those 10-14 years old.

The suicide rate for white males (15-24) has tripled since 1950 while for white females (15-24) it has more than doubled.

The suicide rate for all children (10-14) has more than doubled over the last 15 years.

The suicide rate for young black males (15-24) has risen by 2/3 in only the past 15 years.

Adolescent males commit suicide more than adolescent females by a ratio of 5:1.


Characteristics of Youth at Risk for Suicide

Mental Illness- 90% of adolescent suicide victims have at least one diagnosable, active psychiatric illness at the time of death--most often depression, substance abuse, and conduct disorders. Only 33- 50% of suicide victims were identified by their doctors as having a mental illness at the time of their death, and only 15% were in treatment at the time of death.

Previous Attempts- 26-33% of adolescent suicide victims have made a previous suicide attempt.

Firearms- Having a firearm in the home greatly increases the risk of youth suicide. 64% of suicide victims 10-24 years old use a firearm to complete the act.

Stressors- Suicide in youth often occurs after the victim has gotten into some sort of trouble or has experienced recent disappointment and rejection.

Preventing Youth Suicide

Prevention should include social policy that limits access to firearms, alcohol, and illicit substances, as well as responsible portrayal and coverage of suicide in the media.

Another necessary component of prevention is the identification of potentially suicidal adolescents. Once potentially suicidal individuals have been identified, emphasis should be placed on seeking professional help, which should include intensive treatment of any underlying mental illness.

Copyright © 1996 American Foundation for Suicide Prevention


Remember Suicide IS NOT an option


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