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September 18, 2020 – Experts say it’s too soon to tell whether suicide rates are already spiking as a result of the pandemic. But they warn that the risks are significant. The authors of a recent study in the Lancet on suicide risk and prevention during the pandemic note that suicides went up during the 1918 Spanish flu and 2003 SARS outbreaks, as well as after the 2008 recession. The authors of the study say that suicide is “likely to become a more pressing concern as the pandemic spreads and has longer-term effects on the general population, the economy, and vulnerable groups. Preventing suicide therefore needs urgent consideration.”
Even before the pandemic began, the youth suicide rate in the United States was the highest in recorded history. According to an April 2020 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide rates have risen by 35 percent since the start of the 21st century. And the rates among teens are of particular concern.
Studies examining depression and suicide among teens reveal the following troubling statistics.

  • In 2017, the suicide rate for young people between the ages of 15 and 24 was 14.46 per 100,000—the highest recorded rate ever.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the United States among ages 15–24.
  • Current teen suicidal stats show that 17 percent of high school students have seriously considered suicide, and 8 percent have made failed suicide attempts.
  • More than half of the teens who try to commit suicide have never been given a mental health diagnosis.

Risk Factors and Causes of Teen Suicide
Many factors can contribute to the risk of adolescent suicide. Risk factors do not cause teen suicide, but they may contribute to a teen’s likelihood of making a suicide attempt.The top reasons for teenage suicide include the following:

  • Depression, anxiety, or other mental health disorders
  • Family history of suicide
  • A history of substance abuse
  • Exposure to violence, abuse, or other trauma
  • Social isolation or bullying
  • Losing a family member through death or divorce
  • Financial or job loss
  • Conflict within relationships
  • Starting or changing psychotropic medications
  • Feeling stigmatized
  • Lack of support.

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