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Teenage Suicide Prevention

Globally, close to 800,000 people die from suicide every year. That’s one person every 40 seconds.

We all know the rates of teen suicide keep increasing; suicide seen as a solution keeps increasing.

The CDC reports that:

> Boys are 4 times more likely to die from suicide than girls.

>Girls are more likely to try to commit suicide than boys.

> Guns are used in more than half of all youth suicides.

> In 2017, the suicide rate for young people between the ages of 15 and 24 was 14.46 per 100,000—the highest recorded rate ever.

Note that:

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in 15-19-year-olds and 79% of global suicides occur in low- and middle-income countries.

Causes and Signs

  • Changes in their families, such as divorce, siblings moving out, or moving to a new town

  • Changes in friendships

  • Problems in school

  • Other losses

Warning signs are common to the symptoms of depression-

  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits

  • Loss of interest in normal activities

  • Withdrawal from friends and family members

  • Acting-out behaviors and running away

  • Alcohol and drug use…and more

Anyone more at risk?

A teen’s risk for suicide varies with age, gender, and cultural and social influences. Risk factors may

change over time. Some are:

  • One or more mental or substance abuse problems

  • Impulsive behaviors

  • Undesirable life events such as being bullied or recent losses, such as the death of a parent

  • Family history of mental or substance abuse problems

  • Family history of suicide

  • Family violence, including physical, sexual, or verbal or emotional abuse

How to help

Learning the warning signs of teen suicide can prevent an attempt. Keeping open

communication with the teen is key.

Also take these steps:

  • Keep medicines and guns away from the teen

  • Get the teen help for any mental or substance abuse problems

  • Support him/her; listen, try not to offer undue criticism, and stay connected.

  • Become informed about teen suicide. Resources include the public library, local support

  • groups, and the Internet

  • Know the warning signs for depression

Treatment approaches

  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) brings clarity to what a teen is thinking and feeling. It identifies the emotions that often result in a sense of isolation as well as the self-defeating thoughts and assumptions adolescents can make

  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) provides specific skills like mindfulness and emotional regulation. These skills can be used right away and become stronger with practice.

  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) leads to transformation and healing. This therapy helps teens make positive choices. MET helps resolve any initial resistance to treatment. Experiential modalities, such as art therapy and music therapy, give teens ways to process their emotions through self-expression and body-based practices.

Covid-19 Times

Isolation promotes us to succumb to painful thoughts. A teen could benefit from extra support if they have:

  • changes in mood that are not usual, such as ongoing irritability, feelings of hopelessness or rage, and frequent conflicts with friends and family.

  • changes in behavior, such as stepping back from personal relationships. If your ordinarily outgoing teen shows little interest in staying in touch with their friends while stuck at home, this might be cause for concern.

  • a lack of interest in activities previously enjoyed. That music obsessed kid isn’t listening to anything? That teen stopped baking when that’s what they loved most?


Preventing suicide in the teenage community means first understanding the causes and signs of it. When a teenager feels like their life is turning upside down, it becomes harder and harder to stay connected to them. But this is the best thing we all can do for each other- feeling at least a little bit more grounded while suffering can make all the difference. These are lonely times as it is, with 7/10 teens suffering from mental illnesses, which means we all need to go an extra mile to check up on each other. Stay together and don’t be afraid to find help, there a variety of ways to treat this.

Writer - Astha B

Illustration by - Kavni Shah

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