In 2012, approximately 1,168 children between the ages of 9 and 17 died from suicide, the second leading cause of death for that age group after unintentional injury. In addition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, another 157,000 young people each year between ages 10 and 24 receive medical treatment after attempting suicide. More than half of the deaths by suicide were the result of suffocation, another 39% from firearms, and 3.4% from poisoning.
The Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) for 2013 found that 17% of students in grades 9-12 had seriously considered suicide in the 12 months prior to the survey; 13.7% had made a suicide plan during that same period; and 8% had attempted suicide at least once in the same period.
Currently, the risk for suicide is highest and second highest among American Indian/Alaska Native males and females. The third highest is white males. The suicide rate for black boys and girls is less than for their white and Asian peers.
New research is examining the protective factors that can prevent teen suicide. A strong and positive connection to parents, family and/or school appears to provide immunity for teens when they are troubled and may prevent suicides.
Major Risk Factors
The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) states that the four major risk factors for suicide are:
- Prior suicide attempt(s)
- Substance abuse
- Mood disorders
- Access to lethal means
Records Needed for Case Review
- Autopsy reports, including toxicology screens
- Scene investigation reports and photos
- Suicide notes
- Interviews with family and friends
- EMS run reports
- Emergency Department reports
- Prior CPS history on child, caregivers and person supervising child at time of death
- Child’s mental health history if available
- School records and/or school representative at meeting
- Names, ages and genders of other children in home
- History of prior suicide attempts
- Substance/alcohol abuse history
- Any information on recent significant life events, including trouble with the law
- If a firearm was used in the suicide, information on the ownership and storage of and access to the firearm
- The Suicide Prevention Resources Center Best Practices Registry is an excellent source for evidence-based suicide prevention interventions.
- Community gatekeeper/suicide risk assessment training for community members who interact frequently with teens.
- General suicide education targeted to teens to help them understand warning signs and supportive resources.
- Screening programs, including those in schools, to identify students with problems that could be related to suicide, depression and impulsive or aggressive behaviors.
- Peer support programs to foster positive peer relationships and competency in social skills among high-risk adolescents and young adults.
- Crisis centers and hotlines.
- Restriction of access to lethal means of suicide, including removal of firearms in homes of high-risk teens.
- Interventions after a suicide that focus on friends and relatives of persons who have committed suicide, to help prevent or contain suicide clusters and to help adolescents and young adults cope effectively with the feelings of loss that follow the sudden death or suicide of a peer.
- Suicide Prevention Resource Center Best Practices Registry
- National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP)
- Children’s Safety Network: CSN has publications on suicide, injury prevention link, and a number of webinars that teams can watch together about suicide, publications, and it lists a number of state programs that have focused on suicide.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also focuses on suicide The CDC highlights a number of initiatives targeting prevention of suicide.
- The American Association of Suicidology is also an excellent resource.
- The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
- CDC Suicide: Applying Science. Advancing Practice
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- Suicide Awareness – Voices of Education
- Columbia University Teen Screen Program
- 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: GOALS AND OBJECTIVES FOR ACTION A report of the U.S. Surgeon General and of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention
- Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN)
- American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Bullying Resource Center
- Pacer’s National Bullying Prevention Center
- OJJDP Model Programs Guide: Bullying
- SAMSHA National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices