Youth and Suicidal Thoughts

Image from the Michigan Education Association.

Suicides among teens ages 15-19 are the highest they’ve been since 2000, says a new study by the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Here’s a snippet from an NBC analysis of the study:


The new study found that in 2017, 6,241 teenagers and adults in their early 20s died by suicide. Young men accounted for the vast majority — 5,016 — of those deaths.

In 2017, death by suicide among teen girls jumped 8 percent in a single year. I honestly believe a contributor may have been the wildly popular Netflix show “13 Reasons Why,” released in 2017 and based on a book of the same name, that glamorizes teen suicide as the ultimate form of social revenge. (I wrote about that here.)

I am very concerned about the trend of teen suicide in our country. It can be difficult to detect suicidal thoughts or tendencies before they strike, so the best you can do is watch your teens carefully and listen to them.

Here’s a short list of possible signs of suicidal thoughts or plans from the Suicide Prevention Lifeline:

  • Talking about wanting to die or to kill themselves
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or isolating themselves
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Extreme mood swings

If several of these symptoms sound relevant to your teen, it may be time to ask them frankly if they ever think about hurting themselves. And if they do, I can be here to help. You can call or email to schedule with me, and we can make a plan for your child’s safety and mental well-being for the future.

Satu Woodland is owner and clinician of Mental Health Solutions, an integrative mental health practice located at Bown Crossing in Boise, Idaho. If you would like to discuss the information in this blog further with her, please call 208-918-0958. She sees adolescents and adults. Information in this blog is not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider about decisions regarding your health.

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