Teens and Tween Mental Health: Suicide

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The statistics are staggering. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death in adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19.[1] And further research from the Centers for Disease Control shows suicide rates among tweens—children between the ages of 10 and 14—are on the rise with rates doubling from 2007 to 2014.[2] The thought of losing anyone to suicide is unimaginable, but what can be done to prevent it?

Who Is at Risk for Teen Suicide?

The statistics on teen and tween suicide rates can be heart-wrenching, but understanding risk factors can help with teen and tween suicide prevention. According to leading pediatric healthcare system Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, risk factors for suicide can include:

• Possession of a weapon, pills or other means of inflicting self-harm
• A history of depression or other mental disorders
• Drug or alcohol use problems
• A recent break-up with a boyfriend or girlfriend
• Loss of a parent or close family member through death or divorce
• Exposure to suicidal behavior in others, whether family, peers or celebrities
• Stress caused by physical changes related to puberty, chronic illness and/or sexually transmitted infections
• Uncertainty surrounding sexual orientation
• Problems at school, such as falling grades, disruptive behavior or frequent absences
• Legal or discipline problems [3]

A recent study by Vanderbilt Pediatrics revealed that seasons—and maybe even academic calendars—also can play a role in teen suicide rates with researchers finding spikes in suicide occurrences during October and March and the lowest rates appearing in July.[4]

Bullying & Suicide

In recent years, significant attention has been paid to the impact school bullying and cyberbullying has on teen suicide. As the CDC points out, “We know that bullying behavior and suicide-related behavior are closely related.” In fact, adolescents who report being bullied and those who report bullying others have an increased risk for suicide-related behavior.[5]

As we’ve shared in previous blogs, kids who are perceived as being different than their peers because of their physical attributes or sexual identities may be more likely to experience bullying or cyberbullying. And as high school and middle school bullying continue to be an unfortunate reality, educators and caregivers must work to understand how to recognize and address signs of bullying.

Teen Suicide Prevention

While Pride Surveys’ data from 2016-2017 shows that 4.9% of 6-8th graders and 7.8% of 9-12th graders think about suicide “often or a lot,”[6] there are steps families, pediatricians, and educators can take toward teen suicide prevention. In addition to knowing the facts about teen suicide and risk factors, watch for warning signs. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta provides some guidance here as well, noting some warning signs as:

• Making suicidal statements
• Talking about, writing about or drawing images of death
• Calling, texting or visiting friends or loved ones to say goodbye
• Giving away belongings
• Showing signs of depression, such as moodiness, hopelessness or withdrawal
• Having aggressive or hostile behavior
• Neglecting personal appearance
• Taking risks
• Changing personality
• Having a history of one or more suicide attempts[7]

If you observe these warning signs, don’t be afraid to intervene. Experts resoundingly agree that one of the best steps for suicide prevention in teens and tweens is talking to them about how they are feeling and giving them space and attention to express their feelings honestly.[8]

If you believe, however, that someone is in imminent danger, do not hesitate to take them to a healthcare professional or the emergency room. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) offers free, 24/7 support that is completely confidential.[9]

Since 1980, Pride Surveys has been providing research-quality data for schools and communities to study student mental health. Our Social, Emotional and Bullying Behavior Survey collects data that assess middle school problem behaviors that affect student engagement. Using SEBBS, schools can determine the underlying causes of increased absenteeism, lower academic achievement, and increased substance abuse. The Pride Learning Environment Survey is also recommended as a student evaluation tool for grades 6-12 because of its powerful reporting system and examination of current issues in education such as student mental health, bullying, teen suicide, student learning and more.

The benefit of working with a survey company is that we can gather data and information through anonymous and effective survey tools. With this information, educators, parents, PTAs and coalitions are in a better position to support mental health concerns, fight bullying and secure future funding from a variety of sources to support their programs.

Please browse through the different types of student surveys we offer and find out why more than 14 million students, parents, and faculty members have responded to Pride Surveys. Questions? Please call us today at 800-279-6361 or fill out our quick online contact form.



[1] “Suicide and Suicide Attempts in Adolescents.” Retrieved 19 December 2018 at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/138/1/e20161420

[2] “QuickStats: Death Rates for Motor Vehicle Traffic Injury, Suicide, and Homicide Among Children and Adolescents aged 10–14 Years — United States, 1999–2014.” Retrieved 19 December 2018 at https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6543a8.htm?s_cid=mm6543a8_w

[3] “Youth Suicides on the Rise in Georgia: Learn How to Recognize the Warning Signs Now.” Retrieved 19 December 2018 at https://www.choa.org/blog/2017/august/suicide-prevention

[4] “Suicide attempts and ideation among teens are on the rise.” Retrieved 19 December 2018 at


[5] “The Relationship Between Bullying and Suicide: What We Know and What It Means for Schools.” Retrieved 19 December 2018 at https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/bullying-suicide-translation-final-a.pdf

[6] Pride Surveys Questionnaire for Grades 6 thru 12 2016-17, Pride National Summary, October 19, 2017

[7] “Youth Suicides on the Rise in Georgia: Learn How to Recognize the Warning Signs Now.” Retrieved 19 December 2018 at https://www.choa.org/blog/2017/august/suicide-prevention

[8] “Teen Suicide: How to Understand and Reduce Risk.” Retrieved 19 December 2018 at https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/more-feeling/201807/teen-suicide-0

[9] “National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Homepage.” Retrieved 19 December 2018 at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/


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