Teenage girls consoling their depressed crying troubled friend

National Youth Suicide Prevention Week

By Katelyn Millinor, LPC

Did you know that suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals aged 10-24? Youth suicide statistics cannot be ignored as they have greatly increased over the last decade. Ten teenagers out of 100,000 decide to commit suicide. Females attempt suicide at a rate of nearly 3x that of males. However, males died by suicide at a rate of nearly 3x that of females. Suicide prevention is a critical health topic for young people in the U.S.

What youth are more likely to die by suicide?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (also known as ACES) can include neglect, abuse, experiencing violence, substance abuse, divorce, incarceration of a family member, or poverty. Experiencing ACES has been shown to negatively affect one’s health and mental health over time and can occur across generations. This is particularly troublesome for youth who have had limited access to health care or mental health care. Youth who have one or more ACES are at higher risk for suicide. Populations are at a higher risk of experiencing ACES include minority groups, low socio-economic groups, and LGBT groups. Native American and Alaskan Indians have the highest rates of suicide by ethnic group.

What are the warning signs?

It is not always possible to notice the warning signs in an those thinking about suicide. Some common signs to look out for include: 

  • Talking or writing about death
  • Expressing hopelessness about the future
  • Withdrawing from family or friends
  • Increased drug/alcohol use
  • Giving away personal possessions
  • Engaging in self-harming behaviors
  • Doing dangerous activities
  • Significant change in mood or behavior

How to support a youth who is experiencing suicidal thoughts:

  1. Talk with the youth about their suicidal thoughts as it can help them process through their emotions. 
  2. Try to acknowledge their feelings, fears, sadness, or pain.
  3. Provide reassurance but do not dismiss the problem. You may ask the youth if they are thinking about hurting themselves or taking their own life, and if they have a plan.
  4. Be sure the youth does not have access to any lethal weapons or medications and immediately inform adults or caregivers. 
  5. Try to avoid panicking or offering too much advice. 
  6. Provide the crisis line(s) and assist them to call if necessary. 

Professionals such as the counselors or psychiatrists at NOAH are great resources for ongoing support and safety planning.

If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741)
Maricopa County Crisis Line: 602-222-9444
Teen Life Line (Call or Text): 602-248-TEEN (8336)