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What Age Group Is the Most Suicidal? Risk Factors, Prevention

The highest suicide rates are seen among teenagers and young adults between the ages of 10 to 35 years old.

Suicide is causing fatal self-injury to take one’s own life to escape from pain or suffering. 

Suicide is seen among all age groups, but the highest suicide rates are seen among teenagers and young adults aged between 10 and 35 years.

Incidence of suicidal rates among different age groups

  • Suicide rates increased by 33 percent between 1999 and 2019, with a slight decrease in 2019.
  • Suicide is the 10th most common cause of death in the United States.
  • In 2019, it was responsible for about 47,500 deaths, which equates to one fatality every 11 minutes; even more, people are contemplating or attempting suicide.
  • Twelve million American individuals seriously considered suicide in 2019, 3.5 million plotted a suicide attempt, and 1.4 million attempted suicides.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10 to 34 years old people.
  • The fourth leading cause of death among 35 to 44 years old people.
  • The fifth leading cause of death among 45 to 54 years old people.
  • Men are at higher risk of committing suicide than women.
  • The suicidal rate is the highest among women aged 45 to 64 years.
  • The suicidal rate is the highest among men aged 75 years and older.

9 risk factors of suicide

Various factors make young adults vulnerable and contribute to suicide, such as:

  • Family history:
    • Research suggests that suicide by one family member increases the odds of suicide among others in the family.
    • The risk of suicide among children is increased due to:
      • Family tensions
      • Emotional or physical abuse
      • Violence
      • Lack of family connectivity
      • Parental mental health problems
      • Death of a loved one
      • Family homelessness
      • A history of foster care and adoption
  • Depression:
    • Children and teenagers who are depressed are more likely to commit suicide. 
    • Depression symptoms may include being:
      • Gloomy
      • Hopeless
      • Bored
      • Stressed
      • Nervous
      • Irritated all the time
      • Hyperactive or excited
    • However, some children learn to hide their emotions or are unsure of how to express them.
    • Because up to one in every five teenagers suffers from depression at some time throughout their adolescence, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advises that all children older than 12 years be evaluated for depression during their yearly checkups.
  • Bullying:
    • Children who are bullied, as well as those who bully others, are more likely to have suicidal thoughts and acts. Bullying can be face-to-face or online. 
    • According to one study, children and teenagers who were cyberbullied were nearly three times more likely than their peers to have suicidal thoughts.
  • Sexual preference:
    • Many adolescents who commit suicides are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer (LGBTQ) or anyone with a gender identity crisis. 
    • According to one study, LGBTQ youth who encountered negative emotions or rejection throughout the “coming out” process had a higher risk of suicide. 
    • Another study discovered that transgender and gender non-conforming teenagers had greater rates of suicide ideation and self-harm than the general population.
  • Substance abuse:
    • Substance abuse is a factor in about 33 percent of all teenage suicides. Teens who have access to narcotics may be able to overdose on purpose. 
    • Furthermore, drug and alcohol addiction can result in a substance-induced psychotic episode or a disconnection from reality that may involve hallucinations and delusions, which may lead to suicide.
  • Firearms:
    • Firearms are the leading cause of death from suicide among 15 to 19 years old individuals.
    • Research suggests that youth who grow up in families with firearms are more likely to commit suicide than those who grow up in homes without firearms. Teens are more impulsive than adults because their brains are still growing.
    • A spur-of-the-moment choice to commit suicide with a pistol frequently provides little room for rescue.
    • A gun-free household is the safest home for children and teenagers.
  • Behavioral issues:
    • Adolescents who are easily agitated and have a history of aggressive, impulsive conduct are at a considerably higher risk of suicidal ideation. This is due to their tendency to act out their emotions in damaging ways.
    • The danger is increased if they are socially isolated, use drugs and alcohol, and have poor media habits.
  • Psychiatric illness:
    • Suicide risk is increased by mood disorders, eating disorders, and other mental illnesses in addition to sadness.
    • For example, people suffering from schizophrenia may imagine they are being instructed to commit suicide by a voice (auditory hallucination) even though they do not wish to die.
  • Epidemic:
    • Suicide may be infectious at times. In recent years, many suicide clusters have been documented in places around the United States.
    • In many circumstances, the death of one adolescent may set off a chain reaction that affects others. Parents should pay close attention to how the suicide of a peer impacts their children.
    • Discuss the incident honestly, emphasizing that the victim may not have realized how many people cared about them or that services are available to assist them.
  • How to prevent suicide

    Suicide is avoidable, and everybody can help save lives and build healthy, strong people, families, and communities. Suicide prevention needs a diversified public health strategy. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has developed various programs and practices to help prevent suicide.

    Maintain supportive and nonjudgmental communication channels with children, especially if they are at high risk. If a person suspects their children or loved ones are considering suicide, they should seek assistance from mental health experts who can assist them.

    Medically Reviewed on 1/13/2022

    References

    Image Source: iStock Images

    National Institutes of Health. Suicide. https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/suicide

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Suicide prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/suicide/facts/index.html

    Population Reference Bureau. In U.S., Who Is at Greatest Risk for Suicides? https://www.prb.org/resources/in-u-s-who-is-at-greatest-risk-for-suicides/

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