Elevated Risk Factors

Although there is no such thing as a suicidal type of youth, the statistics on youth suicide do suggest that there are certain behaviors or characteristics that can alert you to a possible elevated risk of suicidal thought. Some of the most common elevated risk factors are listed below:

Perfectionism

The pressure, often on oneself or from others, to be perfect may causes feelings of inadequacy. Youth who are high achievers and/or school leaders that overextend themselves to exhaustion often set high expectations for themselves. If those expectations become impossible to achieve, depression and eventual thoughts of suicide may occur.

LGBTQ+ Identification

Youth who identify as LGBTQ+ are at risk for suicidal behavior because they are the targets of a great deal of victimization. They report not feeling safe in their schools, feeling confused about their sexuality and suffering some form of verbal or physical abuse.

Learning Disabilities

Youth who constantly struggle to understand concepts that are easily understood by others can become depressed and feel defeated. Their struggle to perform in school is present for them daily. Youth with learning disabilities are reported to have twice the risk of emotional distress than typical peers. Females with disabilities are reported to have twice the risk of attempting suicide and for violence involvement than their typical peers.

Isolation

Youth who isolate themselves, commonly identified as “loners” appear to have no social or emotional support systems, which can contribute to depression and/or suicidal ideation.

Low Self- Esteem

Youth who experience feelings of worthlessness, shame, overwhelming guilt, self-hatred and thoughts such as “everyone would be better off without me” are more susceptible to suicidal ideation.

Depression

Up to 90% of youth who complete suicide suffer from undiagnosed and treatable mental health issues.

Legal Trouble

A recent literature review of juvenile corrections shows that detention has a profoundly negative impact on youth mental and physical well-being, education, and employment. One psychologist found that for one-third of incarcerated youth diagnosed with depression, the onset of the depression occurred after they began their incarceration, and another suggests that poor mental health, and the conditions of confinement together conspire to make it more likely that incarcerated teens will engage in suicide and self-harm.

Abuse or Neglect

Abused youth in a study by the AMA showed significantly greater risk factors for youth suicide, including family disintegration, diagnoses of depression, disruptive behavior disorders and substance abuse and dependence.

Alcohol and Drug Abuse

Alcohol and drug use clouds judgment, lowers inhibitions and worsens depression. In turn, this can heighten suicidal ideation and suicide risk considerably.