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By Lisa Wright, PT, PhDProfessor, Kaplan University, College of Social and Behavioral Sciences
is the third leading cause of death for people 15–24 years old in the United
States and the fourth leading cause of death in 10–14 year olds.1 Suicide rates differ
between boys and girls. Girls contemplate and attempt suicide about twice as
often as boys, though their attempts are not fatal as often.2 Males are particularly
at risk for suicide deaths, with 5 times the death rate as females in the 15–19
year age group.3 While these statistics
are grim, teen suicide is preventable. It is important first to understand the
risk factors for suicide.
Risk Factors for Young People and Suicide
issues that can trigger feelings of depression and suicidal thoughts is a big
part of preventing suicide. It is important for people to understand the risk
factors and signs of a possible suicide threat, and to seek professional help
when needed. The following are risk factors for suicide:
Possible Warning Signs of Suicide
of the first steps in suicide prevention is to recognize possible suicidal
behavior in young people. It is important to recognize changes such as the
of the above can occur in young people and not indicate a serious issue, but a
combination of these signs can indicate a suicide risk. It is important to
determine the length of time the factors have occurred and how serious the
extent of the issues. With this information, an informed decision can be made
to the seriousness of the possible suicide threat.
you know the risk factors and possible warning signs of a suicide attempt, it
is important to have tools for prevention of suicide. Take hints such a talk of
suicide, putting affairs in order, and sudden cheerfulness after a down period
seriously, as these may be signs of an impending suicide attempt.8 Support is the most
important thing we can do to prevent suicide. Below are specific things you can
do if you suspect a young person may have suicidal thoughts:
any hints or talk of suicide seriously. Even if you are not sure of the
intent, trust your instincts, as it is critical to take immediate action and
contact a mental health professional.
If you or someone you know are in a crisis and need help right
Call the National
Suicide Prevention Lifeline at this toll-free number, available 24 hours a
day, every day: 800.273.TALK (8255). This service is available to anyone, and
you may call for yourself or for someone you care about. All calls are
anyone commits suicide it affects family, friends, and the community at large.
It is particularly devastating when a young person commits suicide. It is
important for people to recognize the risk factors and warning signs of
possible suicide, and to take immediate and appropriate action. Education can
be the key to preventing suicide in young people.
1. “Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System
(WISQARS),” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for
Injury Prevention and Control, accessed August 1, 2011, www.cdc.gov/ncipc/wisqars. 2. “About Teen Suicide,” KidsHealth, accessed August 1, 2011, http://kidshealth.org/parent/emotions/behavior/suicide.html.3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center
for Injury Prevention and Control.4. “Preventing Teen Suicide,” WebMD, accessed August 2, 2011, http://teens.webmd.com/preventing-teen-suicide.5. Ibid.6. “Teen Suicide,” The American Academy of Child and Adolescent
Psychiatry, accessed August 2, 2011,http://aacap.org/page.ww?name=Teen+Suicide§ion=Facts+for+Families.
7. “Times of Tragedy: Preventing Suicide in Troubled Children and Youth, Part
I, NASP Resources, accessed August 3, 2011, http://www.nasponline.org/resources/crisis_safety/suicidept1_general.aspx.
9. “Some Things You
Should Know About Preventing Teen Suicide,” American Academy of Pediatrics,
accessed August 1, 2011,http://www.aap.org/advocacy/childhealthmonth/prevteensuicide.htm.
10. WebMD.11. “Suicide in the U.S.: Statistics and Prevention,” National
Institute of Mental Health, accessed August 1, 2011,http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-in-the-us-statistics-and-prevention/index.shtml.
Dr. Lisa Wright
Lisa Wright is the Assistant Academic Chair in the Educational Studies
Department in Kaplan University’s College of Social and Behavioral Sciences. Prior to this role, Dr. Wright served as an
adjunct professor at Kaplan University. She received a Bachelor of Health
Science in physical therapy from the University of Missouri, and is a Licensed
Physical Therapist. She has a Master of Education and doctorate in early
childhood special education from the University of Missouri.
Wright has worked with young children as a clinician for more than 20 years, in
rehabilitation hospitals, private practice, early intervention programs, and
the school system. Lisa taught in early childhood, special education, and
physical therapy at the University of Missouri for 10 years, and her main
research interest is intervention for young children with autism.
Wright regularly presents at the local and national level on topics ranging
from interventions for children with autism to college teaching pedagogy. She
has been chosen as Outstanding Faculty for the Honorary Coaches Program,
received the Global Scholars Award and the Dean’s Award, and consistently
receives the Teaching High Flyer Award from student evaluations. Dr. Wright came to Kaplan University because of its
dynamic environment. She enjoys the enthusiasm and love of learning
demonstrated by the students at Kaplan University, and finds her job extremely
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