Skip to Content
 
 
 
Find:
Advanced Search

SUICIDE OVERVIEW

SUICIDE OVERVIEW

(Download this overview as a PDF)


Suicide is an international epidemic. The following table (U.N. Children’s Fund, Progress of Nations Report, 1994) highlights recent youth suicide rates (per 100,000 people) in several countries:

New Zealand

15.7

Finland

15.0

Canada

13.5

Norway

13.4

U.S.

11.1

The suicide rate reached its peak in 1977, then leveled off; and showed a slight decline in the early 1980s. However, since 1980, there has been a 120% increase in suicide among American teenagers. One in twelve teens has attempted suicide. In the U.S., about 5,000 young people end their lives each year. About 100,000 others try (estimates range from 50,000 to 250,000). Many more take their lives in "accidental" deaths (angry, drunken driving, etc.).

More girls attempt suicide than boys, but more boys die as a result of suicide attempts. The highest rate of suicide is among white males (four times the teenage average). Boys tend to use guns and violent means for suicide attempts, whereas girls are more likely to take pills. This classic pattern is changing, however, as girls are turning to more violent means.

There is a high correlation of suicide with divorce, absence of church attendance, and unemployment. Also, the influence of heavy metal rock music lyrics and videos have been noted in suicide notes.

 

KEY FACTORS IN SUICIDAL TEMPERAMENTS

  • Low self-esteem and self-confidence.
  • The tendency to set unreachable expectations.
  • Limited communication and relationships.
  • Emotional weakness in adolescent crises.
  • The influence of peer suicides.
  • A fantasy view of reality which blurs the significance of life and death.

 

SIGNALS OR CUES OF SUICIDE TO BE TAKEN SERIOUSLY

  • Depression, hopelessness, and withdrawal.
  • Changes in behavior patterns (slow and listless or reckless and defiant).
  • Verbal clues (leave-taking, termination talk).
  • The giving away of significant possessions.

 

TYPES OF SUICIDES

  • The romantic suicide.
  • The crisis suicide.
  • The psychotic suicide.
  • The depressed suicide.
  • The angry suicide.
  • Those whose suicide is a form of communication.

 

IMPLICATIONS

    • For the 20% of teenagers estimated to be seriously disturbed in our society, preventive measures are crucial. Parents, teachers, and youth leaders need to seriously look at the key factors above. Our communication and programs should deal with these.
    • Take suicidal clues or signals seriously. Talk to the person sensitively and frankly (there is no support for the idea that talking about suicide plants the idea or increases the likelihood of an attempt). Get counsel from persons qualified to judge. Refer the young person to professionals.
    • Suicides leave deep feelings among family and friends. These must be processed after any suicide.
    • Caring adults, such as youth leaders, are prime preventive factors.

Dean Borgman cCYS