News Article:
Facts About Teen Suicide

By R. Altesman

Adolescence-it can be a turbulent time. TEENAGERS deal with a vast array of new experiences during this transitional period, such as new relationships, decisions about the future, and the physical changes that are taking place in their bodies.

Some TEENAGERS, however, can become overwhelmed by the uncertainties of adolescence and feel they have nowhere to turn. Their search for answers may lead them to begin "self-medicating" their pain by abusing DRUGS or ALCOHOL. Or they might express their rage and frustration by engaging in acts of violence. They don't want to talk about their emotions or problems because they may think that will make them a burden or that others will make fun of them. Too often, these TROUBLED TEENS opt instead to take their own lives.

Suicide Signals
The strongest risk factors for attempted suicide in youth are DEPRESSION,ALCOHOLor DRUG ABUSE, and aggressive or disruptive behaviors. If several of the following symptoms, experiences, or behaviors are present, a mental health professional or another trusted adult, such as a parent or a SCHOOL counselor, should be consulted.

  • Depressed mood


  • Frequent episodes of RUNNING AWAY or being incarcerated

  • Family loss or instability; significant problems with PARENTS

  • Expressions of suicidal thoughts, or talk of death or the afterlife during moments of sadness or boredom

  • Withdrawal from friends and family

  • Difficulties in dealing with sexual orientation

  • No longer interested in or enjoying activities that once were pleasurable


  • Impulsive, AGGRESSIVE BEHAVIOR; frequent expressions of rage

ADOLESCENTS who consider suicide generally feel alone, hopeless, and rejected. They are especially vulnerable to these feelings if they have experienced a loss, humiliation, or trauma of some kind: poor performance on a test, breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, PARENTS with alcohol or drug problems or who are abusive, or a family life affected by parental discord, separation, or divorce. However, a TEENAGER still may be depressed or suicidal even without any of these adverse conditions. Teenagers who are planning to commit suicide might "clean house" by giving away favorite possessions, cleaning their rooms, or throwing things away. After a period of depression, they may also become suddenly cheerful because they think that by deciding to end their lives they have "found the solution."

Young people who have attempted suicide in the past or who talk about suicide are at greater risk for future attempts. Listen for hints like "I'd be better off dead" or "I won't be a problem for you much longer."

Some Suicide Statistics

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people ages 15 to 19 years.

  • Every day, 14 young people (ages 15 to 24) commit suicide, or approximately 1 every 100 minutes.

  • Almost all people who kill themselves have a diagnosable mental or substance use disorder; the majority have more than one.

  • Fifty-three percent of young people who commit suicide ABUSE substances.

  • Four times as many men as women commit suicide, but young women attempt suicide three times more frequently than young men.

What Can Be Done?
TEENS aren't helped by lectures or by hearing all the reasons they have to live. What they need is to be reassured that they have someone to whom they can turn-be it family, friends, school counselor, physician, or teacher-to discuss their feelings or problems. It must be a person who is very willing to listen and who is able to reassure the individual that DEPRESSION and suicidal tendencies can be treated. TREATMENT is of utmost importance. Local chapters of the American Psychiatric Association can HELP by recommending a psychiatrist, a physician with special training in emotional and mental health. HELP can also be found through local mental health associations, family physicians, a county medical society, a local hospital's department of psychiatry, a community mental health CENTER, a mood disorders PROGRAM affiliated with a university or medical SCHOOL, or a family service/social agency.

In short, simply taking the time to talk to TROUBLED TEENAGERS about their emotions or problems can HELP prevent the senseless tragedy of TEEN suicide. Let them know HELP is available.

Other Sources of Information

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
3615 Wisconsin Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20016
(202) 966-7300
(Please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for Facts for Families.)

American Academy of Pediatrics
141 Northwest Point Boulevard
P.O. Box 927
Elk Grove Village, IL 60009-0927
(847) 228-5005

American Association of Suicidology
4201 Connecticut Avenue, N.W., Suite 310
Washington, DC 20008
(202) 237-2280

The Compassionate Friends
P.O. Box 3696
Oak Brook, IL 60522-3696
(630) 990-0010
(For parents who have lost a child)

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
200 North Glebe Road, Suite 1015
Arlington, VA 22203-3754
HELP LINE: (800) 950-NAMI

National Depressive and Manic-Depressive Association
730 N. Franklin Street
Chicago, IL 60610
(312) 642-0049

National Institute of Mental Health
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, MD 20857
FACTS ON DEMAND: (301) 443-5158

National Mental Health Association
1021 Prince Street
Alexandria, VA 22314-2971
(800) 969-NMHA

Suicide Prevention Resources
405 West 48th Street
Manhattan, NY 10036
(212) 459-2611

Highlighted and bolded phrases in article have been edited slightly for "Motori de Cautare"

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