Child & Teenage Suicide: Statistics & What-To-Do’s

The circumstances are very difficult to handle. But we can’t turn our heads any longer! Yet another suburban Chicago teenager took his life this past Wednesday. It was the fifth suicide completion involving a Barrington High School student in the past three years.

The victim was a 17-year-old male who was about to begin his senior year. In spite of being treated for depression, and ramped-up school and community intervention efforts, Graham stepped in front of a commuter train at 6 a.m.

Let’s take a long hard look at some statistics…

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of teenage deaths.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of college student deaths.
  • There are some 10 suicides for every 100,000 young people per year.
  • There are approximately 11 youth suicides daily.
  • Every two hours and 11 minutes someone under the age of 25 completes suicide.
  • For every suicide completion there are between 50 and 200 attempts.
  • In a recent survey, 8.5% of students, grades 9-12, reported a suicide attempt in the past year.
  • Approximately 20% of high school students have seriously considered suicide.
  • Approximately 16% of high school students have made a suicidal plan.
  • Approximately 8% of high school students have made a suicide attempt.
  • The suicide rate is increasing for young people between the age of 10 and 14.
  • In 10% of suicide completions a diagnosable emotional or mental disorder wasn’t present.

The statistics break my heart. And they hit very close to home because my son just started his freshman year of college, and my daughter is about to begin her sophomore year in high school.

As stunning as the statistics are we have to receive and digest them. Keeping our heads buried in the sand will only perpetuate the dying and heartbreak.

And we can’t allow the disturbing nature of the issue to cause us to turn away. No, we have to accept reality and move forward toward solutions life.

Here are my action thoughts…

  • The reality of teenage suicide has to be openly discussed, especially with our children and youth. Taboos are deadly.
  • We have to learn the warnings signs of a potential suicide attempt. You’ll find a good list here.
  • If you’re a parent, relative, or care provider; stay active and engaged with your child or teenager. And even if they say get lost, make sure they know you support and love them.
  • Listen! Listen! Listen!
  • Children and teenagers need as many caring adults on their team as possible. If there’s any way you can reach out to someone else’s child or teen, do so.
  • Providing stability and security is so important. How can we expect a stable and secure child or teen if they have no idea what they are?
  • Report emotional, mental, physical, and sexual abuse. Get involved!
  • If you suspect your child or teen is in distress, talk it over now. And don’t hesitate to use the word suicide.
  • Don’t be afraid of being the bad parent or adult. If the situation is critical, call for help – 911!
  • Lay the groundwork for open and honest communication, beginning in childhood.
  • Have an action plan in place before a crisis occurs.
  • Do not assume it could never happen to your child or teenager – or you!

In closing, here are two links if you’re looking for more information. There are so many more out there…

American Association of Suicidology

In an effort to look this crisis straight in the eye and do something about it, we could sure use any thoughts, feelings, or experiences you’re willing to share. Please feel free to comment.

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