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Teen Depression and Suicide

The national rate of suicide in the United States is 10.6 per every 100,000 people. Among teenagers, suicide is the third most common cause of death (behind accidents and homicide). However, this can be a little deceptive because the risk of death during the teenage years is pretty low. Following are the rates of death by suicide, by age, for teenagers and young adults:
  • 1.6 per 100,000 for 10- to 14-year-olds
  • 9.5 per 100,000 for 15- to 19-year-olds (in this age group, boys are about four times as likely to commit suicide as girls are, while girls are twice as likely to attempt suicide as boys are)
  • 13.6 per 100,000 for 20- to 24-year-olds.
There is good evidence that more than 90 percent of teenagers who commit suicide have a mental disorder before their death. The disorders that most commonly increase the risk of suicide are mood disorders (for example, major depression, bipolar disorder, and dysthymia), with or without alcoholism or other substance abuse problems, and/or certain forms of anxiety disorder.
Among girls, the most significant risk factor for suicide is the presence of major depression, which, in some studies, increases the risk of suicide twelve-fold. Among boys, a previous suicide attempt is the most potent predictor, increasing the rate more than thirty-fold. It is followed by depression, which increases the risk of suicide by about twelve-fold.
(Click Teen Depression and Suicide for more information.)
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
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