Over 5,200 young people die by suicide each year. Suicide is the 2nd-leading cause of death among young people 10 to 24 years of age, following unintentional injuries. There are many practical, effective interventions parents and others can undertake to decrease the risk of a child attempting or dying by suicide.
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month — Suicidal thoughts, much like mental health conditions, can affect anyone regardless of age, gender or background. In fact, suicide is often the result of an untreated mental health condition. Suicidal thoughts, although common, should not be considered normal and often indicate more serious issues. Everyone in Washington has a role in suicide prevention, suicide is a preventable public health problem.
Among both children and adolescents, the warning signs of suicide can include:
Among teenagers, the warning signs of suicide can also include:
Suicidal ideation, self-injurious behaviors, and suicide attempts are most often associated with depression. In addition to depression, other risk factors include:
If someone talks about or exhibits behaviors that make you suspect the person is suicidal, follow these steps:
American Indian & Alaska Native Resources & Research
In addition to the suicide risk factors that face most young Americans, American Indian/Alaska Native youth have layers of risk that increase their susceptibility to suicidal thoughts. According to the Indian Health Service, they may feel cut off from other people, or isolated on reservations, perceive or suffer discrimination, or be burdened by historical trauma shared by earlier generations related to experiences of colonialism, wars, dislocation from land, and separation from family by Indian boarding schools.
Relative to the tremendous toll suicide takes on American Indian and Alaskan Native communities, there is a substantial deficit in research. If you have data or resources you would like us to add, please let us know.
Veteran Resources & Research
Veterans and active duty soldiers face unique circumstances. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, emotional and mental health crises are heightened for men and women who serve or have served in the military. Studies found this to be particularly true in the three years immediately following deployment. The VA says that these unique factors exacerbate crisis moments for veterans:
These resources will help you learn more about veterans and suicide. If you work for an organization that would like to have a resource added, please let us know.
In a national study, 40 percent of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt. 92 percent of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.4
LGBTQ+ Resources & Research
A study published in 2016 found that nearly one-third (29 percent) of LGB youth have attempted suicide at least once in the prior year compared to 6 percent of heterosexual youth. Members of the LGBTQ community experience risk factors shown to increase suicide rates, including societal stigma, threats of violence, institutional discrimination, cyberbullying and conflict with family or friends as a result of their sexual identity. According to The Trevor Project, each episode of victimization, such as physical or verbal harassment or abuse, increases the likelihood of self-harming behavior by 2.5 times on average.
Suicide rates have been increasing for two decades now. Moreover, youth suicide has risen in recent years, along with anxiety and depression. Suicide is the 2nd-leading cause of death among young people 10 to 24 years of age, following unintentional injuries. Comparing data of U.S. suicide rates among persons aged 10-24 between 2007-2009 and 2016-2018: There was a 47% increase in suicides (US).
2019 U.S. total suicides: 47,511
Of note: These numbers represent a decrease from the 2018 numbers and rate. Caution in interpreting these decreases is urged by leaders in the field.
Washington & U.S. five-year suicide totals & crude rates per 100,000
These statistics compare Washington state’s annual suicide totals and suicide crude rates per 100,000 with the matching national statistics for 2015 through 2019.
WA Suicides Rates U.S. Suicides Rates
2019 – 1,263 16.6 47,511 14.5
2018 – 1,252 16.6 48,344 14.8
2017 – 1,297 17.5 47,173 14.5
2016 – 1,141 15.6 44,965 13.9
2015 – 1,137 15.8 44,193 13.8
Washington’s 2019 rate per 100,000 of 14.5 is 24th in the nation.
Courtesy: CDC, UW Forefront
Making it a point to check in on kids’ daily mental health gives them a window of opportunity to ask for help if or when they need it.
To start a conversation:
Many parents may have a heightened concern that the mental challenges their children are experiencing due to this crisis could increase their risk for attempted or died by suicide.
Mental wellness and an increase in suicides are at risk during the coronavirus epidemic.
Feeling isolated, worried, anxious, depressed or grieving is a normal and understandable human response to the dramatic changes caused by COVID-19. Many people are worried about the future, financial stress, health, and how to support each other (especially their kids) in this time of unprecedented uncertainty.
And suicides can increase during periods of societal disconnection and economic downturn.
For families with private insurance:
For families with Medicaid:
Suicide accounts for more deaths than homicide in the United States.
Suicides are preventable. Know the risk factors and warning signs so you can help.
While mental health problems are an important risk factor for suicide, they do not fully explain the differences in suicide between states and regions. Other factors, such as demographics and the prevalence of firearm ownership are important in explaining differences in suicide.
While suicide is a leading cause of death among adolescents and young adults, the highest rate of suicide is in middle aged adults.
While females are more likely to attempt suicide; males, particularly white males, are more likely to die by suicide. 7 in 10 suicides in 2014 were white males.
A vast majority of individuals who attempt or die by suicide have risk factors or show warning signs ahead of time. Learning about those signs can help you save a life.
Studies have found that more than 75 percent of all suicides did things in the few weeks or months prior to their deaths to indicate to others that they were in deep despair. Anyone expressing suicidal feelings needs immediate attention.
It’s best to talk to the person as soon as you suspect something might be wrong. In a study of suicide survivors, 24 percent reported that less than five minutes elapsed from the time they decided to end their life and their suicide attempt.
While pill overdoses account for a large number of suicide and suicide attempts each year, most suicides are actually firearm-related.
An estimated 90 percent of suicide attempts using a firearm result in death, while those who attempt suicide by other means are far more likely to survive a suicide attempt. 2 percent of suicide attempts by pill overdose and 1 percent of suicide attempts by cutting survive their attempt. Means matter.
Keeping firearms locked and unloaded is associated with a lower risk of suicide among those living in the household, including children and adults.
In a nationwide study of adolescents who live in households with firearms, 41 percent reported that they could easily access the gun. Adolescents with mental health problems were just as likely to report easy access to a household firearm as adolescents without mental health or substance abuse problems.
“If you have lost someone to suicide, the first thing you should know is that you are not alone. Each year, nearly 48,000 people in the United States die by suicide — the grieving family and friends they leave behind are known as suicide loss survivors. In fact, research shows that during the course of our lives, many of us will lose someone we care about to suicide. That means there are millions of suicide loss survivors who, like you, are trying to cope with this heartbreaking loss.
Suicide loss survivors often experience a wide range of grief reactions…
Read more on our “Grief Awareness Day” Blog.
Source: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
FREE Forefront Suicide Prevention & Grief Trainings available. These trainings are free to all to attend and may be shared widely!
LEARN Saves Lives: These trainings will provide tools to recognize and help someone who may be considering suicide.
Ideal Audience: Parents, students, community members, and more.
UW Forefront Suicide Prevention is a Center of Excellence at the University of Washington focused on reducing suicide by empowering individuals and communities to take sustainable action, championing systemic change, and restoring hope.
This web site is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking personal medical advice should consult with a licensed physician. No physician-patient relationship is created by this web site or its use. Neither HIPRC, the University of Washington, nor its employees, nor any contributor to this web site, makes any representations, express or implied, with respect to the information provided herein or to its use.