How many teens commit suicide every year? Did you guess 1,000 or 2,500? Try a staggering 5,000 youth ages 15-24 who die from suicide each year. Sadly, nine out 10 people who commit suicide have a diagnosable mental illness, yet only a fraction receive treatment, according to the American Association of Suicidology.
Next week, September 7-13 is National Suicide Prevention Week, and the purpose of the campaign is to raise awareness about suicide and highlight prevention strategies. Since many teens that die from suicide grapple with depression, we wanted to shed some light on the mental health disorder. Here are three facts that you need to know about teen depression:
1. There is a correlation between gender and teen depression.
In childhood, girls and boys experience depression at nearly the same rate. Once adolescence rolls around, this all changes. For some reason, teen girls are more likely to struggle with depression than their male peers are. As a matter of fact, studies have found that girls are three times more likely to experience depression in adolescence.
Medical professionals aren’t sure why girls are more prone to depression. However, there are many theories about the disparities between girls and boys. Some clinicians believe that it is because girls emotionally mature faster than boys do, while others believe that it’s because girls have more pressure to fit the ideal body image.
Good to know: Girls are more likely to attempt suicide, but boys are four times more likely to die by suicide.
2. Substance abuse and depression often go hand in hand.
It is widely known in the medical community that there is a link between substance abuse and depression. However, clinicians often struggle to figure out which issue came first.
Teens that abuse alcohol and synthetic drugs like MDMA (Ecstasy) and speed are more likely to exhibit depression symptoms. On the other hand, some teens use drugs and alcohol to cope with untreated depression and other mental illnesses. They self-medicate with these substances to feel happier or more energetic.
Good to know: Increased drug and alcohol use is often a warning sign that someone is at risk for suicide. If you find that your teenager is consuming more alcohol and drugs than previously, this may be a desperate cry for help.
3. Gender identity and sexual orientation can be risk factors.
Adolescence is a challenging time for any teenager, but gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) teens, in particular, often struggle during this period. Compared to their straight peers, LGBT teens are at an increased risk for depression. Cultural stigmas, bullying, dating violence and parental rejection are all factors that may play a part in LGBT youth experiencing depression.
Good to know: A 2006 study from the Journal of Adolescent Health found that LGB high school students were twice as likely as their heterosexual peers to commit suicide.
What You Can Do
Depression and suicide are major public health issues facing today’s youth. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals ages 15-24, and depression is the psychiatric condition most often associated with suicide. Yet, teen depression and suicide don’t get nearly as much attention as they deserve.
What can you do? Forstarters, you can participate in National Suicide Prevention Week. All across the country, universities, hospitals and community organizations will be holding events to raise awareness about suicide prevention and educate the public.
Second, remember the depression facts listed above. If you have the slightest suspicion that your child, niece or neighbor is struggling with depression, get them help. Untreated depression can lead to a multitude of issues, including suicide.
If your teen has been struggling with depression and using drug and alcohol, find help today by calling us at (844)319-5239 or chat now. Our admissions counselors are glad to answer any questions you may have 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.