Youth Suicide Risk Assessment


Youth Suicide Risk Assessment Worksheet

Download Risk Assessment Worksheet here.

Suicide Facts

2005 data from the National Center for Health Statistics

• A person dies by suicide about every 16 minutes in the United States.

• A suicide attempt is estimated to be made once every minute.

• More people die from suicide than from homicide.

• Overall, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death for all Americans,

• Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among those 5-14 years old.

• Suicide is the third leading cause of death among those 15-24 years old.

•Between the mid-1950s and the late 1970s, the suicide rate among U.S. males aged 15-24 more than tripled (from 6.3 per 100,000 in 1955 to 21.3 in 1977). Among females aged 15-24, the rate more than doubled during this time period (from 2.0 to 5.2). The youth suicide rate generally leveled off during the 1980s and early 1990s, and since the mid-1990s has been steadily decreasing.

Among young people aged 10-14 years, the rate has doubled in the last two decades.

• Between 1980-1996, the suicide rate for African-American males aged 15-19 has also doubled.

•Risk factors for suicide among the young include suicidal thoughts, psychiatric disorders (such as depression, impulsive aggressive behavior, bipolar disorder, certain anxiety disorders), drug and/or alcohol abuse and previous suicide attempts, with the risk increased if there is situational stress and access to firearms.


Protective factors include the following as stated positively by the individual:

• individual is involved in hobbies or activities

• there is family involvement

• involvement in the community

• social and economic stability

Protective person:

• has a close relationship with the individual, and is available to be with the individual

• agrees to remain with the individual until follow up occurs

• has a suitable environment in which to stay with the individual

• has been determined to be competent

Several factors increase the risk that a teenager will attempt suicide:

• Depression or feelings of loneliness or helplessness

• Alcohol or drug addiction

• A family history of abuse, suicide, or violence

• Previous suicide attempts; almost half of teens who commit suicide had attempted suicide previously.

• A recent loss such as a death, break-up, or parents’ divorce Illness or disability

• Stress over school, relationships, performance expectations, etc.

• Fear of ridicule for getting help for problems

• Being bullied or being a bully

• Exposure to other teens committing suicide, such as at school or in the media

• Access to firearms or other lethal objects

• A belief that suicide is noble

90 percent of people who attempt or commit suicide suffer from a mental illness, such as:

• Depression, which causes a teen to feel sad, lonely, withdrawn, and unable to accomplish simple tasks.

• Bipolar disorder, where a teen alternates between periods of depression and mania, characterized by exuberance, insomnia, irritability, and inability to concentrate.

• Schizophrenia, a complicated condition where a teen has hallucinations or distorted perceptions of reality.

• Alcoholism or drug addiction, especially when combined with another mental health disorder; 20 to 50 percent of suicide attempts are related to drug or alcohol use.

Hospitalization:

Research tells us that individuals have significantly increased suicide risks in the week following hospitalization (102 times higher for men and 246 times higher for women). Individuals with affective disorders have a risk of suicide significantly higher throughout their hospitalization and upon release. Individuals whose lengths of stay were shorter than the median were significantly more likely to commit suicide. (2005)

Teen Suicide Statistics Sources:

• National Institute of Mental Health, “In Harm’s Way: Suicide in America” [online]

• National Institute of Mental Health, “What to do When a Friend is Depressed” [online]

• National Institute of Mental Health, “Schizophrenia” [online]

• Center for Disease Control, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, “Suicide: Fact Sheet” [online]

• GirlsHealth.gov, “Suicide” National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center [online]

• Suicide Awareness Voices of Education [online] National Mental Health Association, “Fact Sheet: Suicide” [online]

• Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “Depression, Particularly In Combination with Substance Abuse, Significant Risk Factor for Suicide” [online]

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