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Youth suicide is when a young person: generally categorized as someone below age 24, deliberately ends their own life. Rates of attempted and completed youth suicide in Western societies and other countries are high. For example, in Australia suicide is second only to motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death for people aged 15–24,[1] and according to the National Institute for Mental Health, suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens in the United States.[2] In India, one-third of suicides are young people 15–29. In 2002, 154,000 suicides were recorded in India.[3]


Although the suicide rate among youth significantly decreased in the mid-1990s, suicide deaths remain high in the 15 to 24 age group with 3,971 suicides in 2001 and over 132,000 suicide attempts in 2002, making it the third leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 24 in the United States [4].

Main article: Teenage suicide - Epidemiology

Suicide contagion

According to research carried out by the Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian in 2007, 39% of all youth suicides are completed by young people who have lost someone of influence or significance to them to suicide. The Commission terms this suicide contagion and makes several recommendations as to the importance of safe guarding young people and communities from suicide contagion.

In 2011 the Australian Federal Parliament Standing Committee for Health and Ageing Inquiry into Youth Suicide met in a round table forum with young representatives from three organisations at the forefront of preventing youth suicide, including Sunnykids,[5] Inspire, and Boys Town. The Standing Committee has since released a discussion paper highlighting the findings of their inquiry[6] and will seek to make final recommendations on the most effective means for reducing youth suicide at the conclusion of their inquiry.

Teens at risk

Main article: Youth suicide: Assessment of risk and early detection

One of the problems is getting psychiatric counseling when it's needed.[7] "In teenagers, depression is considered a leading - if not the leading - cause of teen suicide.".[8] Gay teens or those unsure of their sexual identity are more likely to commit suicide, particularly if they have suffered bullying or harassment. In Canada, almost 300 young people take their lives each year. Some Aboriginal teens and gay or lesbian teens are at high risk, depending on their community and their own self esteem.[9] Several campaigns have been started to give them hope and help them to feel less isolated.

  • It Gets Better [10]
  • Born This Way[11]
  • I Get Bullied Too [12]

Bereavement among young people

The primary goals of suicide postvention include assisting the survivors of suicide with the grief process, and identifying and referring those survivors who may be at risk for negative outcomes such as depressive and anxiety disorders, and suicidal behaviour. With 42% of completed youth suicides being suicide bereavement (or contagion) related - further research and investment must be made into supporting this group of people, as they may represent the single largest potential reduction in youth suicide rates, if they receive effective support, feel connected, supported and understood. Harassment is a leading cause of teen suicide, along with abuse.


One organization in Australia has found that young people who feel connected, supported and understood are less likely to complete suicide. Reports on the attitudes of young people identified as at risk of suicide have been released.[13] Such reports support the notion that connectedness, a sense of being supported and respected are protective factors for young people at risk of suicide. According to Pueblo Suicide Prevention Center (PSPC) for some reason kids today are experiencing more pressure.

Knowing behaviors that can be 'early warning signs' can help, and assisting the young person to get appropriate help or hospitalization. For information on intervention and identification of indicators of suicidal thinking/intent, as well information about non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) see

Suicide prevention

Main article: Suicide prevention with young people

Issues for communities

Intervention issues for communities to address include: suicide contagion, developmental understanding of suicide, development and suicide risk, and the influence of culture. Key matters in postvention responses for young people include: community context, life stage relevance of responses, identification and referral (Postvention Co-ordination), developing a suite of services, and creating ongoing options.


  1. Commission for Children and Young People and Child Guardian
  2. National Institute [for] Mental Health
  3. Iype, George. South India: World's suicide capital. Rediff, 2004-04-15. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  4. Suicide: Fact Sheet, 30 March 2006, retrieved 2 May 2006.
  5. SunnyKids 2010
  6. Federal Parliament Health and Ageing Standing Committee Inquiry into Youth Suicide
  7. [1]The Globe and Mail, 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  8. [2]"Teen Suicide Causes and Issues," Retrieved 2012-04-26.
  9. (Reference to come)
  10. Rick Mercer joins the It Gets Better campaign. CBC News, 2010-11-02. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  11. Born This Way Paul V. creates a safe online haven for LGBT teens as a suicide prevention measure. Huffington Post, 2011-10-12. Retrieved 2011-10-13.
  12. [3] Kiwi Commons created the “I Get Bullied Too!” campaign to help amplify the voices of bullying and digital abuse victims, 2011-10-01. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
  13. Head High Fact Sheet 1

Further reading

Key texts


  • Alan L. Berman; David A Jobes; and Morton M. Silverman. Adolescent Suicide: Assessment and Intervention. 2nd Edition. APA 2005


  • Barrios, L.D., Everett, S.A., Simon, T.R., & Brener, N.D. (2000). Suicide ideation among U.S. college students: Associations with other injury risk behaviors. Journal of American College Health, 48, 229-233.Beautrais, A.L., Coggan, C.A., *Fergusson, D.M., & Rivers, L. (1997). The prevention, recognition and management of young people at risk of suicide: Development of guidelines for schools. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Ministry of Education.Beautrais, A.L., *Joyce, P.R., & Mulder, R.T. (1998). Psychiatric contacts among youths aged 13 through 24 years who have made serious suicide attempts. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 37, 504- 511.
  • Birckmayer, J., & Hemenway, D. (1999). Minimum-age drinking laws and youth suicide, 1970-1990. American Journal of Public Health, 89, 1365-1368.
  • Brener, N.D., Hassan, S.S., & Barrios, L.C. (1999). Suicidal ideation among college students in the United States. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 67, 1004-1008.
  • Brener, N.D., Krug, E.G., & Simon, T.R. (2000). Trends in suicidal ideation and behavior among high school students in the United States, 1991-1997. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 30, 304-312.
  • Brent, D.A., Johnson, B.A., Perper, J., Connolly, J., Bridge, J., Bartle, S., & Rather, C. (1994). Personality disorder, personality traits, impulsive violence, and completed suicide in adolescents. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 33, 1080-1086.
  • Brent, D.A., Perper, J.A., & Allman, C. (1987). Alcohol, firearms, and suicide among youth: Temporal trends in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, 1960-83. Journal of the American Medical Association, 257, 3369-3372.
  • Brent, D.A., Perper, J.A., Allman, C.J., Moritz, G.M., & Wartella, M.E. (1991). The presence and accessibility of firearms in the homes of adolescent suicides: A case-control study. Journal of the American Medical Association, 266, 2989- 2995.
  • Brent, D.A., Perper, J.A., Goldstein, C.E., Kolko, D.J., Allan, M.J., Allman, C.J., & Zelenak, J.P. (1988). Risk factors for youth suicide: A comparison of youth suicide victims with suicidal inpatients. Archives of General Psychiatry, 45, 581-588.
  • Brent, D.A., Perper, J.A., Moritz, G., Baugher, M., Roth, C., Balach, L., & Schweers, J. (1993a). Stressful life events, psychopathology, and adolescent suicide: A case control study. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 23, 179-187.
  • Brent, D.A., Perper, J.A., Moritz, G., Baugher, M., Schweers, J., & Roth, C. (1993b). Firearms and adolescent suicide: A community case-control study. American Journal of Diseases of Children, 147, 1066-1071.
  • Centers for Disease Control. (2000a). Youth risk behavior surveillance—United States, 1999. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 49 (SS-5), 1-96.
  • Centers for Disease Control. (2000b). Cluster of suicides and suicide attempts–New Jersey. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 37, 213-216.
  • Children's Safety Network. (2000). Fact sheets: Youth suicide prevention plans. Newton, MA: Education Development Center.
  • Davidson, L., & Gould, M.S. (1989). Contagion as a risk factor for youth suicide. In L. Davidson & M. Linnoila (Eds.), Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide: Vol. 2. Risk factors for youth suicide (DHHS Publication No. ADM 89- 1624, pp. 88-109). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  • Gibbs, J.T. (1988). Conceptual, methodological, and sociocultural issues in black youth suicide: Implications for assessment and early intervention. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior, 18, 73-89.
  • Youth Suicide By Firearms Task Force. (1998). Consensus Statement on youth suicide by firearms. Archives of Suicide Research, 4, 89-94.
  • Zimmerman, J.K., & Asnis, G.M. (Eds.). (1995). Treatment approaches with suicidal adolescents. New York: John Wiley & Sons.

Additional material



Alcohol, Drug Abuse, and Mental Health Administration. (1989). Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide: Vols. 1-4 (DHHS Publication No. ADM 89-1624). Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. American Academy of Pediatrics. (1990). Policy statement: Children, adolescents and television. Pediatrics, 85, 1119-1120. American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Adolescence. (1992). Firearms and adolescents. Pediatrics, 89, 784-87.

External links

Clinical aspects
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