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YOUTH SUICIDE: A Serious Issue

Youth suicide is a very real problem.  The Center for Disease Control report that it is the third leading cause of death, behind accidents and homicide, for people age 15-24. Even more disturbing is the fact that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10 and 14.

Youth encounter many pressures from different areas in their life, including emotional, social, and family issues.  The most common reason for youth suicide is depression.  Due to these overwhelming pressures, many youth find themselves feeling hopeless and having suicidal thoughts.

Often, there are warning signs that a youth is having suicidal thoughts.  Studies show that warning signs can be seen in 4 out of 5 youth suicide attempts.  You should know that these warning signs are so that you can help someone who maybe showing these signs. 

Youth Suicide Warning Signs*

  • Disinterested in favorite extracurricular activities
  • Problems at work and losing interest in a job
  • Substance abuse, including alcohol and drug use (illegal and legal drugs)
  • Behavioral problems
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Sleep changes
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Begins to neglect hygiene and other matters of personal appearances
  • Emotional distress brings on physical comlaints (aches, fatigue, migraines)
  • Hard time concentrating and paying attention
  • Declining grades in school
  • Loss of interest in schoolwork
  • Risk taking behaviors
  • Complains more frequently of boredom
  • Does not respond as before to praise

Some, not all, of these suicide warning signs may be present.  You should watch for them and if you see two or three of them, it may indicate that someone you know is depressed and having thoughts of suicide.

It is important to understand that youth suicide warning signs are a serious call for help.  Many youth will share their thoughts and feelings in a desperate attempt to be acknowledged.  In many cases, they don't know how to deal with their feelings and problems and are looking for someone to help them find assistance.  Acknowledging these warning signs and seeking help for the problem, and offering support to a youth who is working through his or her issues is very important, and can help prevent suicide.  Paying attention to the warning signs can truly save a life. 

Help For Youth Who Are Suicidal**

One of the best ways to help yourself if you know that you are feeling unusually low is to talk about it.  Whatever is bothering you is most likely a problem that your parents, or another adult, would like to know about so that they may help you get through it.  If you can't talk to your parents about your problem, you can talk to another adult like a close relative, teacher, counselor, or even a close neighbor.  A lot of times, simply talking about an issue with another person helps you realize that the problem is not too big for you to handle. 

However, if you are so down or depressed that you are having suicidal thoughts, you should seek professional help immediately.  If you are not being treated for depression or another mental illness already, your doctor may be able to help you. 

If you are prepared to end your life, please call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433).  Someone there will be able to help you.  Your call is completely confidential.  You can also go to your local emergency room or call 911 and they can get you the help you need. 

Help for Friends of Suicidal Youth**

If your friend confides in you that he or she is going to commit suicide, you must take him/her  seriously.  Talk to your friend, be a good listener.  Let your friend know you care.  Even if your friend says he/she has changed his/her mind about suicide or swears you to secrecy, you must tell an adult you trust immediately.  If possible, don;t let your friend stay alone until you know that an adult has taken control of the situation and is finding help for your friend.  You may also call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433).  Someone at the hotline will be able to help you and your call is completely confidential. 

*This section taken from: Teen Suicide Warning Signs Main Source Material: "Teen Suicide".  Ohio State University Medical Center.  Ohio State. 

** This section taken from: Help for Suicidal Youth and Help for Friends of Suicidal Youth at

On-line Resources for Youth Suicide Information and Prevention:


If you are feeling suicidal or know someone who is, please call:

  1. National Suicide Hotline 1-800-SUICIDE (800-784-2433)
  2. NJ 2nd Floor Youth Help Line 1-888-222-2228