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Teen Suicide Rates Ages 14-to 18

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  • Category: Suicide

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Teen suicide rates is an alarming trend in the United States today as more and more adolescents are getting victims of their own situation. Report says in 1995, 9.9 per 100,000 American youth committed suicide. This figure even rose to 11.0 somewhere between 1998 and 1994 but it dropped to 8.2 in 2000.

This alarming situation triggered many questions such as what causes a teenager to commit suicide, are young people of certain age group, personality type, or family background prone to attempt suicide than others? This and a lot more questions have been the reason for this study. It is interesting to find out why teenage suicide has increased and be able to shed light on this issue to help prevent suicides.

This study will seek to find out why teenagers ages fourteen to eighteen suicides, by reviewing and by analyzing researches done on the topic, as well as through investigating the records of suicide survivors who are now adult and are already stable in life. The study will cover only teenagers fourteen to eighteen as this bracket tend to have the most number of suicide cases. Forces and factors possibly causing suicides such as family problems, use of drugs, physical and sexual abuse, and a sense of futility will be the focus of the study. However, if there are other strong factors causing such suicides among teenagers will likely be included in this paper.

Statement of the Problem

            The national Alliance on Mental Illness stated that teenage suicides ranked eight of the leading cause of death in the United States overall, and third leading cause of death for young people (NAMI 2008). The NAMI report cited that people who commit suicide have a diagnosable substance abuse or mental disorder and most people have more than one disorder. This leads to the conclusion that the feeling to commit suicide is treatable. However, the problem is how we can identify the symptoms of the disorders and the behaviors that usually associated with thoughts of suicide.


            Teenage suicide maybe the most tragic loss of life as it is certainly unnecessary and is borne only by misunderstanding and the complicated situation this young people are into, that could have been addressed if given proper attention. If suicide tendency has to do with substance abuse or mental disorder and is highly treatable, why then suicides among young people age group fourteen to eighteen continues to plague this peers. Are the studies done on this issue have shed enough information that will help prevent more suicides in the future? How suicides among young people can be addressed in the light on the researches done on this social malady.

Background of the Problem  

            One of the most common affective disorders causing young teens to commit suicide is depression. According to the research done by James W. Prescott, Suicide is the third leading cause of death for more than a generation now among ages fifteen to twenty four. However, this suicide rates doubled for children ages five to fourteen. The study revealed that this mental health condition is worse today than it was fifty years ago. What has been the reason for these very young children to commit suicides is really worth knowing. According to Tracy L. Cross, Karyn Gust-Brey, and P. Bonny Ball (2008) in 1990, 30, 906 young people accomplished suicide in the United States. Further more, Cross, Gust Brey, and Ball stated that over the past four decades steady increases have been documented practically for every age group from zero to fourteen and from fifteen to twenty-four.

Because of the dramatic increase of suicide cases among teenagers, suicide is now considered the second highest cause of death. Cross, Gust-Brey and Ball identified significant risk factors associated with adolescent suicide as follows: Psychiatric disorder such as depression and anxiety, drug abuse, family loss or disruption, genetic factors, friend or family member of suicide victim, homosexuality, media emphasis on suicide, impulsiveness and aggressiveness, rapid socio- cultural change and, and ready access to lethal methods. Steven J. Garlow (2002) in his article entitled Age, Gender, and Ethnicity Differences in Patterns of Cocaine and Ethanol Use Preceding Suicide stated that drug use is partly accountable for the increasing rate of suicide among young people ages fourteen to twenty-five.

In the studies done by Schuckit and Schuckit (1991) as cited by Cross, Gust-Brey, and Ball, it stated that controlled substances and alcohol are often used as a prelude to a suicidal act. Cross, Gust-Brey, and Ball also cited the study done by Pfeffer (1991), which stressed that socioeconomic factors like exposure to high levels of stress, at an early age are at high risk to commit suicide. Pfeffer noted that stress includes the loss love ones, and social support groups, separation or divorce of parents, problems with peer relationship, and change in school environment. Cross, Gust-Brey, and Ball pointed out that about twenty-five to fifty percent of adolescence effecting suicide have a family history of psychiatric disorders.

Psychologist explain that adolescent who is lacking of problem solving skills develop an attitude of hopelessness when they face stress provoking problems which eventually leads them to commit suicide because they do not have other alternatives. Family Science Specialist Sean Brotherson and April Anderson noted that about eleven teenagers, ages fifteen to nineteen die everyday because of suicide in the US. Brotherson and Anderson stated that suicide rates among youth tend to increase significantly at the rate of eight suicide deaths per 100,000 among age fifteen to nineteen.

Phillip S. Moore in his article entitled What’s the matter with Kids Today? Study Prompts Discussion cited that, boys and girls ages fourteen to eighteen that are sexually active are three times likely to be depressed than those that are not sexually active and they are three times likely to commit suicide with fourteen percent compared with five percent of those that are not active. Antoon  A. Leenaars, Ronald W. Maris and Yoshimoto Takahashi (1997) suicide attempt rates at ages fourteen to fifteen are more than double than those at the ages twelve to thirteen. However, Suicide attempts are not easy to count as many may have not been treated in the hospital or may not have been recorded. Data of surveys from 1999 reveals that 19.3% of high schools students had critically considered attempting suicide. Survey also reveals that the most common method of suicide by young people is with firearms and that more than 60 percent of youth suicides ages ten to nineteen in 1998 were related to firearms

Generally, most studies reveal that a youth who has previously attempted suicide is more likely to attempt suicide again. Further, more, the report by the National Youth Violence Prevention cited that ninety percent of young people who complete suicide have depressive illness. The report stated that depressed adolescents were five times more likely to have attempted suicide in contrast with a control group of peers who have no depression.


The methods used by the researcher in this study are more on research and review of related materials. The researcher chose to `study age group fourteen to eighteen because most of the reports and surveys on teen age suicide are high on this peer group. Survey says this group also had the highest risk to commit suicide. The report of the National Alliance on Mental Illness stated that in the United States, about 2,000 teenagers’ aged ten to nineteen complete suicides. The report also cited that this group was the third principal cause of death in America.

Of the 19, 882, 596 studied, it appears that teenagers who committed suicide was 8.2/100,000 or 1,621 deaths.

This study will be done through researches on various data available particularly statistics on the number of suicide cases on this group. The researcher will also frequently refer to the findings of various psychologists regarding the possible identity of those who have tendency to commit suicide or those who have committed either completed or not completed. The data that is use in this paper was a product of tedious observations, critical analysis, and careful investigation on the causes of suicides committed by the teenagers.

Data Analysis

The data used in this paper will be analyzed to get critical information about the causes of suicides among teens, as well as to get actual numbers of suicides to determine which of the risk factors are the primary causes of suicides among the young are people ages fourteen to eighteen. The data will also be used to evaluate the suicide cases in order to formulate the findings and conclusions for this paper.


The researcher found out that, there is several risks factors high risk for young people to commit suicide. These high risk factors includes the use of drugs and alcohol, high level stress, the loss of love ones, and depression. The researcher also found out important facts about suicide cases. Those who have a family history of suicide are likely to commit suicide and those that have committed once are likely to complete it. Further more, the researchers found out that sexually active young people both boys and girls are likely to be depressed than those who are not active.

The researcher further found out that twenty-five to fifty percent of adolescents effecting suicides have a family history of psychiatric disorders, and that young people ages fourteen to fifteen are more aggressive to commit suicide among any of the age group bracket and that majority of these young people committing suicides used firearms to complete their attempts. The researcher also found out that depressed adolescents were five times more likely to commit suicide than those who not in depression. The overall findings of the researcher is that teenagers have need of guidance in their struggle to face the challenges in their lives brought by the factors and forces competing to win their attention as they are unable to handle such factors.


After critical review of literatures and available data, the researcher is convinced that most of the suicides death cases could have been avoided had the necessary attention to this malady was generously paid. The researcher believed that suicide are highly associated to mental disorder and is therefore highly treatable. The risk factors identified such as use of drugs and alcohol, high-level stress, the loss of love ones, and depression are common factors and that, what makes them a high risk is simply the attitudes of the person that encounters them. It means that those who have positive attitudes towards these risk factors can overcome the drive to commit suicide. Thus, there is need for an awareness campaign among the young people design to strengthen their capacity to cope up such risk factors, as people can be educated regarding the warning signs suicidal tendencies.

It is evident that most suicide happens with at leased some noticeable warning. Educating people therefore concerning how to effectively respond to such warning signs (such as use of drugs and alcohol, high-level stress, loss of love ones, and depression), of suicidal behavior can be an effective prevention strategy. Perhaps the best persons to undergo such education aside from the teenagers themselves are the parents. The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) calls this education as, family psychoeducation approach. This approach is designed to help parents and family members understand the problems of their adolescents. The NAMI explained that the purpose if this education is to enhanced compliance with management of the problem, and encourage partnership with parents to monitor their patient. Therefore, with proper handling and a genuine concern for the welfare of these teens the problem of suicide cases can be reduced and eventually erased.


            The researcher recommends that one, Schools and public health system should conduct periodic or quarterly symposium on the effect of drugs and alcohol in the emotional aspect of life. Two, the public health system must implement strict monitoring activities on the behaviors of the teenagers in close coordination with the school system and the parents. This should be done through putting up guidance counseling office that will closely monitor the teenagers in close coordination with teachers and parents.

The abstract

            The suicide cases of young of all ages is alarming as more and more young people are abruptly ending their lives by the use of fire arms. The number of young people committing suicide is increasing; however, this can be avoided, as the behaviors associated with suicidal tendency can be unidentified and is treatable. Thus, suicides cases can be reduced and can be eventually eradicated.


Brent, D. (1996) Teenage suicide http://www.nami.org/Content/ContentGroups/Helpline1/Teenage_Suicide.htm

Brotherson, S. & Anderson, A. Basic Facts about Suicides


Cross, T.L., Gust-Brey, K., Ball, P. (2008) A Psychological Autopsy of the Suicide of an Academically Gifted Student: Researchers’ and Parents’ Perspective.


Garlow, S. Age, Gender, and Ethnicity Differences in Patterns of Cocaine and Ethanol use Preceding Suicide


Groenendijk, C. Suicide Rates Doubled For Children of 5-14 Years Old over the Past 20 Years


Leenaars, A., Maris, R., Yoshimoto, T. (1997) Suicide: Individual, Cultural, International Perspectives USA: The Guilford Press.

Moore, P. What is the Matter with Kids today? Study Prompt Discussion


Teen Suicide not so Painless


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