Written By Jennifer Scott.
Suicide Statistics by Age
Suicide is the number one cause of death in the United States for people between the ages of 10 and 34, and the number four cause of death for adults between the ages of 35 and 54. This grim statistic is only overshadowed by the fact that suicide is 100% preventable.
Though uncommon, self-inflicted causes of death are not unheard of in children younger than 10 years. In 2010, a six-year-old girl in Oregon hung herself in her bedroom after an argument with her mother; the death was ruled a suicide by the local coroner. Children in elementary school today face increasing academic and social pressures. A recent study by Washington State’s Healthy Youth Survey uncovered a whopping 15.8% of sixth graders had considered suicide within the last year.
Adolescence and teenagers
According to the Jason Foundation, a national suicide prevention program, more young people die from suicide than from cancer, stroke, influenza, lung disease, pneumonia, heart attack, and AIDS combined. There are an estimated four suicide attempts per second in the United States – 5,240 each day – for children in middle and high school. One in 25 of these attempts are successful. Young girls tend to consider suicide twice as often as their same-age male peers though the fatality rate is four times higher for boys.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate that about 13 out of every 100,000 adults between the ages of 35 and 64 years will attempt to commit suicide each year. Female fatalities tend to increase with age; women between ages 60 and 64 are in the highest risk category.
Late life suicide and attempted suicide is a major public health problem and one that warrants attention from researchers, policymakers, and society as a whole. There is a massive jump in suicide rates for Caucasian men starting around age 75; an estimated 25 in 100,000 will attempt to end their own lives. By the age of 85 that number nearly doubles.
Often, there is no singular cause of the suicide, but a compounding of issues the individual felt unable to handle. The most common risk factors for all ages include:
- Family history of suicide or attempted suicide
- Family history of child abuse
- Prior unsuccessful suicide attempt
- History of diagnosed or undiagnosed mental disorders, specifically clinical depression
- Alcohol and drug abuse
- Aggressive or impulsive personality
- Religious and cultural convictions (e.g., personal belief that suicide is a noble exit from an unproductive or shameful life)
- Great personal loss; losing a loved one, job, or relationship
- Terminal illness
- Reluctance to seek help due to perceived social stigmas attached to substance abuse and mental health disorders
Teenagers, additionally, face increasing societal pressures and may have problems dealing with budding sexuality, especially when it goes against the norm. Those with easy access to legal medications and firearms and those who are left alone regularly are at a higher risk.
The majority of individuals who attempt or commit suicide display one or more warning signs in the days, weeks, and months preceding the event. People who are thinking about committing suicide may display a sudden fascination with death and begin engaging in uncharacteristic risk-taking behaviors. Additional warning signs include:
- Unusual physical or emotional distance from family and friends
- Writing grim poetry or letters that focus on death, loss, and separation
- Giving cherished belongings to friends/siblings
- Loss of interest in sports or other extracurricular activities
- Feeling trapped
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Atypical aggression
- Depression, anxiety
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms or having suicidal thoughts, call 911 or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800.273.8255.