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Teen Suicide Every ninety minutes, another adolescent in the United States ends his life. The second leading cause of death for teens, suicide accounts for 6,000 adolescent deaths each year, a 200% increase from 30 years ago. Even these high statistics exclude the many suicides that are hidden, or reported as accidents, due to fear and shame.

Sex Differences:
  For every adolescent who kills himself, 200 others attempt  suicide. Females make four times more attempts than males. However, of the teens who do complete suicide, males outnumber females 3 to I.

Two thirds of male suicides are committed with guns, while historically, most women have taken pills when attempting suicide. Recently, however, females have become increasingly violent in their attempts; guns are now used in one third of all female suicides.


Although the causes of teen suicide are many and varied, their increase can usually be linked to changes in society. The decline of family unity is often a factor in adolescent suicide. Separation of parents, two-career families and increased family mobility leave parents with less attention to give their children. Ninety percent of suicidal teenagers feel misunderstood by their parents.

Teens are also under stress from competition. They worry about doing well in school and being able to find a good job when they graduate. Parents sometimes force their teenagers to strive for unattainable goals to compensate for their own adolescent failures.

Not all suicidal adolescents have disjointed home lives and impossible goals set for them. Many of them form stable relationships at home and school, and set reasonable objectives for their lives. But when they become depressed they still feel they have nowhere to turn for help.

The increasingly violent climate of our world has also emerged as a factor in suicide. The constant threat of nuclear war fosters a growing sense of hopelessness and teens may choose suicide as an option to what they see as a bleak future.

Many suicides are caused by depression, some linked to alcohol and drug abuse. But another, less visible cause of teen suicide is the sensationalized media coverage it usually receives. A rash of copycat incidents often occurs after media reports or an adolescent suicide. Recent studies show that suicide stories written in clinical terms or emphasizing the effect on friends and family members reduces this contagion effect.


Adolescents who attempt suicide seem to fall into one of three groups:

Teens who have trouble with the law or show other signs or antisocial behavior, drug or alcohol abuse:

Teens who repress their feelings and do not feel comfortable discussing their problems with others;

Extreme perfectionists who are socially inhibited and feel exaggerated anxiety in the face of challenge.

The shock of losing someone close, especially a young person, prevents many people from looking beyond the immediate event to the message behind it. But suicide communicates a desperate message: that life seems unbearable and suicide the only available exit.

Suicide is not an impulsive action.
It is the result of much forethought and preparation, and is often preceded by many clues.