Suicide Among Teens and

Young Adults

Suicide Among Teens and Young Adults

Help is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week.

If you live in Utah, call the Statewide CrisisLine at
801-587-3000 or
call the National Suicide Prevention LifeLine at
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

An average of 557 Utahns die from suicide and 4,543 Utahns attempt suicide each year (1). In 2013, suicide surpassed unintentional injuries to become the leading cause of death among youth ages 10-17 in Utah. The rate of suicide among
Utah youth ages 10 to17 has been increasing since 2011. The youth suicide rate in Utah has been consistently higher than the national rate. Utah had the 8th highest youth suicide rate in the U.S. for the years 2012-2014 (5).

Youth ages 10 to17 comprise 13.0% of the Utah population, 5.1% of all suicides, and 22.7% of all suicide attempts (1). Two youth are treated for suicide attempts every day
in Utah. More youth are hospitalized or treated in an emergency department (ED) for suicide attempts than are fatally injured. All suicide attempts should be taken seriously. Those who survive suicide attempts are often seriously injured and many have
depression and other mental health problems.

Everyone plays a role in suicide prevention. Learn the warning signs, reach out to others who are struggling, call the crisis lines, and ultimately, collective efforts in these areas can save a life.

Suicide Ideation Among Utah Youth

In 2015, 24.8% of Utah students reported they felt sad or hopeless, 16.6% reported they seriously considered attempting suicide, 13.5% reported they made a suicide plan, and 7.6% reported they attempted suicide one or more times. These were significantly higher than percentages reported in 2013 at 20.8%, 14.1%, 10.8% and 6.2% respectively (4). However, a 2013 study showed that Utah students who had positive family environments and attended religious services weekly were less likely to have considered suicide.

Utah Youth Suicide Study

Utah has consistently had a higher youth suicide rate compared to the U.S. for more than a decade, prompting the development of the Utah Youth Suicide Study. Death certificates provided by the Office of the Medical Examiner and additional data from multiple government agencies were collected on 151 Utah youth suicides. Results showed:

  • 89% of the suicide decedents were male.
  • 63% of suicide decedents having had contact with the juvenile courts.
  • 54% of the decedents who had contact with juvenile court had a referral(s) for substance possession, use, or abuse and 32% had one felony referral.
  • 23% had a special education evaluation, primarily for behavioral disorders.
  • 35% had either a suspension or expulsion from school.
  • Only 1% of the suicide decedents were in public mental health treatment at the time of death.

Research indicates at least one in five youth under age 18 who have been arrested, have serious mental health problems. However, mental health services for youth in juvenile offender facilities are insufficient. Even fewer resources are available for juvenile offenders involved with probation officers outside juvenile facilities in Utah. Early mental health interventions through the juvenile court system can be a cost-effective way for reaching teens at risk for suicide. Treatment should include both psychiatric care and in-home behavioral intervention.

Media Recommendations for Reporting on Suicide

The media plays an important role in preventing youth suicides. However, without careful reporting, media agencies can inadvertently influence individuals at risk of suicide to take their own lives, a phenomenon called suicide contagion. Several guidelines have been developed for use by media agencies, writers, producers, bloggers, editors, and publishers to help safely cover this topic.

References

  1. Utah’s Indicator Based Information System for Public Health (IBIS-PH)
  2. Psychiatric Services. Best Practices: The Utah Youth Suicide Study: Best Practices for Suicide Prevention Through the Juvenile Court System
  3. Health Status Update, Risk and Protective Factors for Youth Suicide, February 2015
  4. Utah Department of Health, 2015 Prevention Needs Assessment.
  5. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [cited 2016 July].