Suicides by poison overdose have increased among teens, young adults & seniors within the last decade. The most vulnerable groups are 15 to 24-year-olds and 75 to 84-year-olds. While a specific cause has not been identified, researchers believe the rise of teen suicide stems from more young people struggling with mental health issues.
We’re Seeing Teen Suicide Rates Rising
Young people are a high-risk group for suicide. Their brains are still developing, which can affect things like impulsivity and coping mechanisms. Researchers believe these numbers have spiked due to the isolation brought on by the 2020 pandemic.
What Ages are We Seeing This Rise in?
Rates of teen suicide increased among 15 to 24-year-old males from 0.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2015 to 0.8 in 2019. For females in that age group, it rose from 0.6 in 2014 to 1 in 100,000 by 2019. We have also seen a rise in suicide rates for seniors. The rate of suicides by drug overdose rose among 75-to-84-year-old men from 0.7 per 100,000 in 2001 to 1.6 in 2019. The rate among senior women went up from 0.8 per 100,000 in 2001 to 1.7 in 2019.
Is Suicide More Common in Teenage Boys or Girls?
For many years, teenage girls have been reported to attempt suicide more frequently, but teenage boys reported death by suicide in more significant numbers. Within the last ten years, the gender gap between male and female teen suicide rates has decreased considerably, except for suicide by poisoning. According to data collected by the Missouri Poison Center, suicide attempts by poisoning are almost 3 times higher in teen girls than teen boys.
For example, there were 1788 female cases in 2021 versus 383 male cases. Researchers are unsure of why suicide rates in teen girls are increasing so rapidly. Only gender-specific risk factors have been identified, such as girls being more susceptible to depression and anxiety, while boys are more likely to display conduct disorders or aggressive behaviors.
Common Suicide Risk Factors in Teens
- Some common suicide risk factors for suicide in teens are:
- Mental illnesses such as depression
- Substance abuse disorder
- Adverse childhood experiences such as child abuse and neglect
- Family history of suicide
- Barriers to healthcare
While risk factors can’t cause or predict a suicide attempt, they’re still essential to know.
What Suicide Signs to Watch Out For
Learn how to recognize the warning signs when someone’s at risk—and what you can do to help.
Suicide Warning Signs
- Extreme mood swings
- Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
- Withdrawing or feeling isolated
- Sleeping too little or too much
- Acting anxious or agitated; behaving recklessly
- Increasing use of alcohol or drugs
- Talking about being a burden to others
- Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
- Talking about feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
- Looking for a way to kill oneself, such as searching online, gathering medication, or buying a gun
- Talking about wanting to die or kill oneself
How to Get Help
Understanding the issues concerning suicide is a way you can participate in suicide prevention. Education is the key to prevention. There are many free services available such as:
Thoughts of suicide can touch anyone anywhere, and everyone has a role to play in preventing suicide.
How To Talk To A Suicidal Teen
If you believe someone may be in danger of suicide, call 911 if the risk of self-harm is present.
If you notice any suicide warning signs, talk with that person and listen without judging. Ask them if they are thinking about killing themselves. Remember, this will not put the idea in their head or make it more likely that they will attempt suicide. Stay with the person, or check in on them regularly and remove any objects that could be used in a suicide attempt until you can get further help.
If you or someone you know is struggling with suicide, call or text the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988. It’s free, confidential, and available 24/7. You don’t have to be suicidal or in crisis to call Lifeline.