Teen Depression and Suicide
Most teenagers with depression do not commit suicide; but there does appear to be a link between suicide and teen depression. The risk for suicide is greater in teenagers with clinical depression than in teenagers without depression. In fact, there is evidence that over 90 percent of teenagers who commit suicide have a mental disorder. Besides mental disorders like depression, risk factors for suicide can also include physical illness, feelings of hopelessness, and a family history of suicide.
An Overview of Teen Depression and Suicide
While clinical depression is more common in adults than it is in teenagers, clinical depression in teenagers is a lot more common than most people think. Approximately 3 percent to 5 percent of the teen population experiences clinical depression every year. In fact, depression research studies show that, at any given point in time, 10 percent to 15 percent of teens have some symptoms of depression.
Depression is known to increase the risk of suicide in teenagers. This is why suicidal behavior is a matter of serious concern for everyone involved with a teenager, including parents, teachers, friends, and healthcare providers who deal with the mental health problems of children and adolescents.
Learning the risk factors for suicide, as well as warning signs for depression, will go a long way toward preventing suicide in teenagers.
Are Suicide and Teen Depression Related?Many people wonder if teen depression and suicide are directly related. Although the majority of teenagers who have depression do not die by suicide, having clinical depression (also known as major depression) does increase suicide risk compared to teenagers without depression.
The risk of death by suicide may, in part, be related to the severity of the depression. New data on depression and suicides suggest that about 2 percent of those people ever treated for depression in an outpatient setting will die by suicide. Among those ever treated for depression in an inpatient hospital setting, the rate of death by suicide is twice as high (4 percent). Those treated for depression as inpatients following suicide thoughts or suicide attempts are about three times as likely to die by suicide (6 percent) as those who were only treated as outpatients.
Another way of thinking about depression and suicide risk is to examine the lives of people who have died by suicide and see what proportion of them were depressed. From that perspective, there is good evidence that over 90 percent of teenagers who commit suicide have a mental disorder before their death. The disorders that most often increase the risk of suicide are mood disorders (major depression, bipolar disorder, and dysthymia), with or without alcoholism or other substance abuse problems; and/or certain forms of anxiety disorder.