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Chartbook on Mental Health and Disability

Section 3: Children and mental health disabilities

3.6. What is the risk of suicide among youth?

In the second half of the 20th century, the suicide rate among young people increased dramatically. Between 1952 and 1995, the incidence of suicide among adolescents and young people nearly tripled. In 2000, people under the age of 25 accounted for 15% of all suicides. For young people 15-24 years old, suicide is among the three leading causes of death, after unintentional injury and homicide.

Every two years, the Youth Risk Behavior Survey asks high school students nationwide about sadness, suicide ideation and attempts during the past year. In 2001, 28.3% of students had felt so sad or hopeless almost every day for more than two weeks that they stopped doing usual activities. Nearly one in five (19.0%) had seriously thought about attempting suicide, and 14.8% had made a specific suicide plan. Nearly nine percent (8.8%) had made one or more actual suicide attempts, and 2.6% had made an attempt that required medical attention in the past year.

Almost one in five adolescents has seriously thought of suicide, and nearly 9% report a suicide attempt.

Figure 20 (see data table for text-only version)

Figure 20: Percentage of youth, grades 9-12, who reported sadness and suicide risk, 2001

Source: Grunbaum, et al. (2002); National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (2003)

Surveys: Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 2001

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