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Human Services Spotlights

Posted on: June 22, 2018

Suicide Prevention Task Force

Suicide logo with blue

Pennsylvania Suicide 2019

Defining Suicide

Suicide is death caused by injuring oneself with the intent to die. A suicide attempt is when someone harms themselves with the intent to end their life, but they do not die as a result of their actions.

Suicide is associated with several risk and protective factors, is connected to other forms of injury and violence, and causes serious health and economic consequences. For example, suicide risk is higher among people who have experienced violence, including child abuse, bullying, or sexual violence. Other characteristics associated with suicide include a history of suicide attempts and lack of problem-solving skills. Protective factors like being connected and easy access to health care buffer individuals from suicidal thoughts and behavior.

By using a public health approach that addresses risk and protective factors for multiple types of violence, suicide and other forms of violence can be prevented.

How big is the problem?

Suicide affects all ages. Suicide is a problem throughout the life span. It is the second leading cause of death for people 10 to 34 years of age, the fourth leading cause among people 35 to 54 years of age, and the eighth leading cause among people 55 to 64 years of age.

Some groups have higher rates of suicide than others. Suicide rates vary by race/ethnicity, age, and other population characteristics, with the highest rates across the life span occurring among non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native and non-Hispanic White populations. Other Americans disproportionately impacted by suicide include Veterans and other military personnel and workers in certain occupational groups. Sexual minority youth bear a large burden as well, and experience increased suicidal ideation and behavior compared to their non-sexual minority peers.

Teen Suicide

Anyone can struggle with suicide. The teenage years are especially hard and stressful. Lots of things can affect your teen’s mood and behavior. Their bodies are changing and they’re dealing with hormones. They have pressures from friends, family, and teachers. They might be dealing with negative events.

Depression and thoughts of suicide are common, but can be treated. It is crucial to get help to manage depression and prevent suicide. If you think your child is depressed or at risk of suicide, talk to your doctor. You also can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This is a free counseling service that is open 24/7. It is a trusted way to get advice and support. If you are worried about another teenager, tell their parents right away. Doing this can save lives.

Teen suicide is when a child ends his or her own life. It can be impulsive or planned. Sometimes, other people are physically hurt in the act. Not all suicide attempts lead to death. In fact, it doesn’t always mean your child wants to die. It could be their way of calling for help.

People who have these thoughts suffer a range of symptoms. Sadness, despair, neglect, and anger are among them. Teens may act differently than adults. Some people who struggle with suicide might not display any signs. 

Leading warning signs for suicide include:

Talking about death and/or suicide in a casual way.

Saying they wish they hadn’t been born.

Asking about death or how to commit violent acts.

Talking about leaving or going away.

Saying they won’t need things soon.

Not wanting to be around people anymore.

Seeming sad and remote, instead of happy and social.

Becoming more angry or edgy.

Losing interest in hobbies or events.

Having trouble focusing.

Showing changes in normal routine, such as sleeping, eating, or grooming. These can lead to being sick or having stomach, head, or body aches.

Acting out in harmful ways, such as drinking, using drugs, or hurting themselves.

Getting in trouble with the law.

Additional resources for teen suicide:

Suicide in Teens



CDC Suicide Statistics

 If you or someone you know is in crisis, please contact the Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).


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