Suicide in Teens and Children

by Sam Malone

Suicide is one of the leading causes of deaths in teens and older children; preventing it has become a challenge. It is estimated that every year, in the United States of America alone, about 1800 teenagers commit suicide. This is a shocking figure because cancer and other diseases claim only 500-1000 lives in the United States.

The statistics of suicides in teens have been on the rise since 1996. Shockingly, however, there has been a rising trend of suicide cases amongst older children, in the age range of 9-12, making suicide the number five cause of death in preteens.

In the last fifteen years, it has been estimated that suicide rates have increased by at least 18%. When you consider the number of suicides that go unreported every year, the number is extremely shocking.

Experts on suicide amongst children have not yet been able to figure out why there is an increase in suicides. There is speculation that underage drinking and easy access to guns and paraphernalia may have something to do with the rising numbers of suicide cases. There have also been some troubling incidents where children have killed themselves due to the increasing peer pressure on social networking websites like MySpace.

The breakdown of the family system and the stress related to it is also often associated with depression and suicide. Unfortunately, many children who are being treated for depression or who are suspected of having depression do not have access to antidepressants which are vital for the treatment of this disorder.

When we talk about the world in general, it is estimated that every five minutes a teenager commits suicide somewhere in the world, bringing the yearly toll to 90,000. Some of the common causes of suicide identified all over the world include chronic anxiety, child abuse, genetics, mood disorders, stressful events like breakups or divorce of parents, alcohol and substance abuse, eating disorders, social issues, being bullied, medications which cause severe mood fluctuations, and dropping out of school.

Statistically, it has been seen that teenagers who are bisexual or homosexual are more likely to commit suicide. Often, parents or responsible adults around these children ignore the recurrent warning signs. If a child or a teen threatens to hurt himself/herself or talks about suicide, he/she is often not taken very seriously. Children with anxiety or stress disorders should be monitored closely in order to make sure that they do not attempt suicide. Withdrawal from society and nurturing hopelessness are some of the other warning signs of suicide.

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