Risk for Suicide in Youth

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Suicide is a growing problem worldwide and accounts for a large number of deaths yearly. There are many risk factors that increase suicide among young adolescents. In the study risk factors that put youth at a greater risk included, mental illnesses, previous suicide attempt, genetics, family problems, the means available, and life stressors. Understanding the risk factors help to increase prevention among young individuals. Knowing the risk factors help increase the quality of care a nurse can provide and helps nurses to understand the bigger picture. It also will help nurses prevent suicide attempts and better understand their patient.

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Risk Factors That Influence Youth Suicide

Youth suicide has become a growing problem worldwide. Globally suicide is the 15th leading cause of death causing more than 800,000 deaths yearly. (Bilsen, 2018, p. 1) Due to suicide becoming more prevalent more awareness is being shown for suicide and for suicide prevention. It is now more important than ever to determine risk factors for suicide among the youth population. Suicide is more prevalent in those with mental disorders, those who have previously attempted, personality characteristics, those with family issues, and with stressful life decisions. (Bilsen, 2018, p. 1)

Youth are at more risk for suicide due to the need to make important decisions about their future, building their identity, relationships, and increasing responsibility. Young individuals are at the point in their life that they need to choose what they want to do with their life, where to live, grow independently, and start intimate relationships. Along with starting relationships they also experience break-ups, loss of friendships, and deaths of friends/family. These tasks can all be difficult and cause a lot of stress for them. Relationships and friendships are of great importance for youth and when they lose someone it can have a great impact on their lives, accounting for one-fifth of youth suicides. School stressors such as bullying, mental, physical, or sexual abuse, as well as academic stress, are commonly seen with youth suicides. (Bilsen, 2018, p. 4 & 5) Then on top of that their relatives, peers, or friends are putting them under more stress because they have high expectations for them and their future. These can all cause someone to become overwhelmed and want to end their lives. (Bilsen, 2018, p. 3)

In the study, an area they talked about it is how mental health disorders can put you at risk for suicide. It showed that about 90% of people who committed suicide have suffered from a mental illness. If an individual suffers from a mental illness such as affective disorder, depression, substance abuse, alcohol abuse, borderline personality disorder, antisocial disorder, anorexia nervosa, schizophrenia, and anxiety it is shown that they are at increased risk for committing suicide. It is especially prevalent with affective and substance abuse disorder. The study showed that about 30-40% of people who committed suicide had one of these previously mentioned mental illnesses. (Bilsen, 2018, p. 3)

Previous suicide attempts or a history of self-harm are also things that put a young individual at risk for suicide. The study showed that about 25-33% of suicides occurred after a previous attempt. It was also concluded that 1-6% of people that attempt to end their life die by suicide within the first year after the attempt. Boys who have attempted suicide are at a greater risk of committing suicide then girls are. (Bilsen, 2018, p. 3)

Personality characteristics such as impulsiveness have also been shown to be associated with suicide. The transition from suicidal ideation to an attempt usually occurs rapidly, unexpectedly, and impulsively. The impulsive change can be due to mood fluctuations, challenges in daily life, and bio-neurologic factors. Youth with poor problem-solving skills and have a passive attitude have also been found at greater risk for suicide. Poor problem-solving skills put them at risk because it causes low self-efficacy and low self-esteem that can progress to anger and aggressive behavior leading to suicide. (Bilsen, 2018, p. 4)

Family factors can play a role in risk for suicide as well. It has been shown that a family history of mental disorders such as depression and substance abuse accounts for 50% of the suicide cases in the study. (Bilsen, 2018, p. 4) It is also believed that it may be genetic. Other problems within a family may also increase the risk for suicide such as poor communication/neglect, direct conflict with parents, violence at home, and parental divorce. Parental divorce increases the risk of suicide because of financial problems and living arrangements can cause a young individual to commit suicide. (Bilsen, 2018, p. 4)

Young individuals like to mimic or imitate what their peers do or what is popular. Suicide can be evoked by imitation of what a young person sees through media, the school environment, and what their friends are doing. The study shows that an individual usually mimics someone when they have a lot of similarities with such as age, gender, mood, and background, if it’s someone they admire, or if it is someone they are very close with. This can cause a chain of suicides to occur within a group of friends if one friend commits suicide or even within a class. (Bilsen, 2018, p. 5)

Lastly, suicide risk greatly depends on the availability of the means to do so. The availability will determine if the individual is at risk as well as how lethal the means are. Youth often commit suicide by hanging, jumping from a high level, running into traffic, or by taking prescription drugs and poisoning themselves. (Bilsen, 2018, p. 5) The study found that young men will usually use firearms if there is one available to them. It is very important to eliminate the availability of means to prevent a suicide from occurring. (Bilsen, 2018, p. 5)

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Risk for Suicide in Youth. (2020, Mar 06). Retrieved December 6, 2022 , from

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