Taking a closer look at risk factors for suicide

Regrettably one of the most common causes of death in teens is suicide. It is around the 6th cause in those aged 5 to 14 years old and the 3rd cause in 15 to 24 year olds. On average more males commit suicide than females and there are even more suicide attempts. Females are more likely to make more attempts. The rate continues to go up and that is why there is such a need for suicide prevention resources.

Risk factors

There is a misunderstanding among the larger population that suicide is something spontaneous or impulsive but that is not true for most cases. There are risk factors that include the individual, their family background, their biology, their life situation and more that compound the issue. That is why suicide prevention training can work as it means identifying those more at risk of trying and then knowing how to try to prevent it. Some of those risk factors or triggers are outlined below.

1) Individual

  • Psychopathology – A major psychiatric disorder is a big factor in a lot of suicides. The main one is depression. Even when identified and being treated those early days of recovery are still also in the high-risk period. Other disorders that are a factor include things like panic attacks, substance abuse and PTSD.
  • Biochemical makeup – There are some people who are more at risk just because of their biochemical makeup. For example, teens with abnormal serotonin function can be more prone to suicidal thoughts and efforts.
  • Previous efforts – If a person has attempted suicide before especially if they are male, then they are more likely to try again and succeed. Suicide prevention resources take this into account.
  • Personality and cognitive – A teen that has more aggressive behaviour, are more impulsive, feels hopeless and has poor interpersonal skills is also more likely to think of suicide.

2) Family

  • Family history of suicide – If there is a history of suicide in the family then teens in that family are also more likely to make an attempt.
  • Psychopathology of the parents – If the parents have issues with substance abuse, suffer from depression, made attempts at suicide when they were teens, then their teens will also be more at risk.

3) Life situation

  • Abuse – If the teen has been a victim of abuse, mental or physical or both, then they will be more likely to make attempts to commit suicide.
  • Stressful events – If there have been large stressful events in their life, losses of loved ones, legal issues, discipline problems, then they are more likely.

4) Contextual and socioeconomic concerns

  • Imitation – As well as being more at risk if someone in their family has tried or succeeded, teens tend to imitate things they see or hear about in social media, at school, with peers. Suicide clusters among teens and mass suicides are real.
  • Work and school issues – If teens are having problems at school or work, dropping out, then this can add to the risk. It is important to have staff with suicide prevention training.

Bio –

Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide is dedicated to increasing awareness, saving lives and reducing the stigma of suicide through specialized training programs and resources that empower teens, parents and educational leaders with the skills needed to help youth build a life of resiliency.

SPTS expert program staff are available to meet your educational and professional development needs with a comprehensive catalog of dynamic workshops and training programs for schools, community groups, professional conferences and parents. Browse our catalog or consult with our office staff for the presentation that best fits your suicide prevention needs.

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