Studies show that at least 90% of teens who kill themselves have some type of mental health problem, such as depression, anxiety, drug or alcohol abuse, or a behavior problem. They may also have problems at school or with friends or family, or a combination of all these things. Some teens may have been victims of sexual or physical abuse. Others may be struggling with issues related to sexual identity. Usually they have had problems for some time.
Most teens do not spend a long time planning to kill themselves. They may have thought about it or tried it in the past but only decide to do it after an event that produces feelings of failure or loss, such as getting in trouble, having an argument, breaking up with a partner, or receiving a bad grade on a test.
A depressed individual thinking of suicide is often profoundly ashamed and either unaware of the presence of mental illness or uninformed about the power of treatment to restore hope and health. Teens are our best line of defense. If they know the signs, they can identify a struggling peer, ask, listen and seek help.