It can be hard to remember how it felt to be a teen, caught in that gray area between childhood and adulthood. Sure, it’s a time of tremendous possibility but it can also be a period of great confusion and anxiety. There’s pressure to fit in socially, to perform academically, and to act responsibly. This age group experiences drastic biological and physical changes, while a growing self-identity, and desiring a need for autonomy that often conflicts with the rules and expectations set by others.
A teen with an adequate support network of friends, family, religious affiliations, peer groups, and extracurricular activities may have an outlet to deal with everyday frustrations. However, many teens can still feel disconnected and isolated from family and friends. These teens are at increased risk for suicide.
Adolescent Suicide Statistics
- Suicide rates for U.S. teens and young adults are currently the highest ever recorded with 6 per 100,000 youth dying by suicide each year.
- Suicide is now the 2nd leading cause of death for Americans between the ages of 10-34.
- According to the 2018 Wyoming PNA survey (http://pnasurvey.org)
- 83% of Wyoming Junior High and High School male students reported that they had considered suicide within the last year.
- 51% of Wyoming Junior High and High School female students reported that they had considered suicide within the last year.
- 19% of 6th graders reported that they had considered suicide within the last year.
- 48% female and 5.85% male Wyoming Junior High and High School students reported that they had attempted suicide within the last year.
- 06% of 6th grade students reported that they had attempted to take their life 1 or more times within the last year.
- 41% of 8th graders reported that they had attempted to take their life 1 or more times within the last year.
For more information specific to each county https://www.pnasurvey.org/
- LGB youth seriously contemplate suicide at almost three times the rate of heterosexual youth and are 5x as likely to have attempted suicide compared to heterosexual youth.
Suicide among teens often occurs following a stressful life event, such as a perceived failure at school, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the death of a loved one, a divorce, or a major family conflict.
A teen who is thinking about suicide might:
- talk about suicide or death in general
- talk about “going away”
- talk about feeling hopeless or feeling guilty
- pull away from friends or family
- lose the desire to take part in favorite things or activities
- have trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
- experience changes in eating or sleeping habits
- self-destructive behavior (drinking alcohol, taking drugs, or driving too fast, for example)
Risk and Protective Factors
According to the CDC, the following are the risk and protective factors for adolescent suicide:
Risk Factors for Suicide
A combination of individual, relationship, community, and societal factors contribute to the risk of suicide. Risk factors are those characteristics associated with suicide—they might not be direct causes.
- Family history of suicide
- Family history of child maltreatment
- Previous suicide attempt(s)
- History of mental disorders, particularly clinical depression
- History of alcohol and substance abuse
- Feelings of hopelessness
- Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
- Cultural and religious beliefs (e.g., belief that suicide is noble resolution of a personal dilemma)
- Local epidemics of suicide
- Isolation, a feeling of being cut off from other people
- Barriers to accessing mental health treatment
- Loss (relational, social, work, or financial)
- Physical illness
- Easy access to lethal methods
- Unwillingness to seek help because of the stigma attached to mental health and substance abuse disorders or to suicidal thoughts
Protective Factors for Suicide
Protective factors buffer individuals from suicidal thoughts and behavior. To date, protective factors have not been studied as extensively or rigorously as risk factors. Identifying and understanding protective factors are, however, equally as important as researching risk factors.
- Effective clinical care for mental, physical, and substance abuse disorders
- Easy access to a variety of clinical interventions and support for help seeking
- Family and community support (connectedness)
- Support from ongoing medical and mental health care relationships
- Skills in problem solving, conflict resolution, and nonviolent ways of handling disputes
- Cultural and religious beliefs that discourage suicide and support instincts for self-preservation
For more information and resources for teens, parents, and educators, please see the following websites:
- Sunflower Project:
A self-reflection activity for building a positive self-image
Click here for Printout
- Lessons of Hope [printable]:
Classroom Lessons about Hope and Resiliency for students ages K-6
- Butterfly Project (For Self-Injurers):
Click here for Printout
- Preventing a Suicide: A Toolkit for High Schools (SAMHSA)
- After a Suicide: A Toolkit for Schools (SPRC)
- The Jason Foundation
“Youth Suicide Statistics- Parent Resource Program”
- gov “Suicide Prevention (Youth)”
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center
“Suicide prevention resources for teens”
- Crisis Text Line
Text “WYO” to 741741
Free, 24/7 access to a real-life Crisis Counselor who provides emotional support and can help calm by actively listening and providing collaborative problem solving.
- Safe 2 Tell Wyoming
Confidentially report anything that concerns or threatens you, your friends, your family or your community.
Download the app on Android or iPhone
- Maine Teen Suicide Prevention
A website for teens that provides resources, information about suicide prevention and more, stories of other teens’ experiences, and a quiz on information about suicide.
- Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide
Links and resources about suicide prevention and suicide loss for teens and college students.
- Trevor Project (LGBTQ+ Youth)
- Your Life Your Voice from Boys Town Hotline
Call, text, chat or email. Link to mood tracker app, tips, and advice help for tough situations, top questions and concerns from teens with answers.