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Leading Causes of Suicide among Teenagers across America: Critical Analysis

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Suicide continues to be one of the leading causes of death in teenagers across America. Statistically, in the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death for those aged ten to twenty-four and about 3,470 individuals grade nine to twelve attempt to commit suicide each day (Youth Suicide Statistics 1). It is unclear why these individuals choose to take their lives, but parental divorce, the creation of a new family, or moving to a new community are common explanations for suicide. On the other hand, the likelihood of a suicide attempt is raised by those who combat depression or experience depression. People may think it’s all going wrong and dying is the only option, but people will still be willing to help. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary situation and there is nothing worth taking over your own life.

The intentional action of causing physical damage to oneself is self-harm and is a very serious sign of emotional distress. Self-harm is officially classified as nonsuicidal self-injury disorder (NSSID) according to the Statistical and Diagnostic Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), as these self-destructive activities are carried out without any intention of suicide. As several reports show that approximately 15 percent of adolescents and 17-35 percent of college students have inflicted self-harmful actions on themselves, adolescents are at the highest risk of self-harm injury. There are similar levels of self-harm behavior for males and females. Examples of self-injurious actions involve cutting, skin carving, intense scratching, or burning oneself, as well as punching or hitting walls to cause pain. Ingesting toxic chemicals, extreme skin picking, hair pulling and deliberate wound healing intervention are other examples. After the harmful act is done, the person gains a superficial feeling of emotional and mental relief followed by feelings of shame or remorse, resulting in even more negative emotions before this cycle begins.

Recent studies have shown an increase in teenage girls in both teen suicides and self-harm. As a result of mental disorders, substance addiction, cultural, family and social conditions, genetics, and most of all, cyberbullying, suicide among adolescent girls may occur (Ehmke). Around 20% of teenage girls in the U.S. consider suicide, and between 5% and 8% of them attempt suicide each year, based on a 2015 survey (Ehmke). 150 out of 10 million girls between the ages of 10 and 14 committed suicide due to cyberbullying, among other similar causes, in 2014 alone (Graham). Excessive social media and smartphone use can lead to cyberbullying, medical experts say. Many cyberbullying victims also feel a lot of stress and anxiety that leads to suicidal ideation (Ehmke). A study in The Atlantic by Jean Twenge confirms that cyberbullying is more closely linked to teenage suicidal thoughts than common bullying (Twenge). Some figures indicate that between 5 and 20 percent of teenage girls are victims of physical, verbal or exclusion-based bullying, depending on the country of origin. while 15% to 30% of them are victims of cyberbullying (Twenge). Only a few studies have investigated the association between cyberbullying and suicide, but the study of Jean Twenge strongly indicates that cyberbullying is a significant risk factor for the idea of suicide in adolescent girls (Twenge).

Studies have shown that there are four main reasons why individuals engage in self-harm behavior:

  • To decrease negative feelings
  • To stop any social circumstances
  • To obtain encouragement from society
  • To feel “something” other than numbness or unfulfillment

Self-harm is often misconstrued as being directly connected to suicide, but as the two are vastly different, this is not the case. Since suicide and self-harm are pain inflictions, they are often grouped under the same subject. Although it is often possible that people who engage in self-harm can commit suicide later, people who engage in self-harm usually do not want to end their lives, but rather engage in self-harm as a way to cope with their lives.

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The intent is the most important distinction between suicide and self-harm. Suicidal individuals have significant life stressors and/or mental health problems that cause intolerable suffering and suicide is their way of stopping this pain. Usually, suicidal attempts come from a place of desperation, hopelessness, and worthlessness. On the other hand people who indulge in self-harm do so as a way to deal with their emotions and stressors. For some the pain of self-injury convinces them that, perhaps when they experience emotional numbness or a disconnection from the world, they are still alive in reality. The physical act of cutting or burning triggers pain receptors in the body, allowing the brain to experience a ‘rush of adrenaline’’ that can quickly become addictive and extremely dangerous.

If one understands what to watch out for in a person trying to commit suicide, then that person may be able to stop the suicide from occurring. In his article ‘Recognizing Symptoms of Teen Suicide,’ he says, according to Jeff Carpenter of ABC News, ‘Experts say that the warning signs of depression include: lack of energy, not enjoying things that used to be enjoyable, irregular sleep patterns, lack of confidence, moodiness, and the tendency to be critical of oneself’ (Carpenter, 2011).

The way a teen thinks about or responds to a particular thing is another significant indication of a suicidal teenager. Before doing something, several teens who think they are going to commit suicide will talk about it. ‘My life is not good enough the adolescent might say, or I just want my life to end,’ because they can’t get the subject out of their minds. If those in touch with the adolescent (parents, peers, teachers, etc) only listen to the suicidal adolescent, then they may be able to identify and acknowledge the thinking of the suicidal adolescent and may be able to support the child. If one is trained to identify and grasp the symptoms of suicide, adolescent suicide can be identified at an early stage. But if the person does not know any of the symptoms, they could end up losing someone close to them.

Knowing the suicide-related signs and symptoms is a start to avoid teen suicide; however it is equally necessary to take action. If the teenager seems to be pondering suicide, one step that may be beneficial is to take the potentially suicidal teenager to a doctor. Interacting with the suicidal teenager is another action. This is the simplest initial action to try, potentially. Two things can happen if a teenager contemplates suicide and a person talks with them. First the person may find out more specifics about what’s bothering the teenager. Second, in the short term, the teenager could be talked out of committing suicide. To solve this horrible tragedy, talking may be simple and helpful; but if a person does not act immediately, the adolescent may commit suicide.

Acting quickly is the main key to saving a suicidal youth. “If you have reason to believe that the child might, on whatever level, be considering suicide, you must take urgent action, according to Sylvia Cochran. Do not leave him or her alone until assistance is available. Do not adopt a wait and see attitude.” (Cochran). If a parent, friend, teacher, etc can respond quickly, then they might be able to prevent suicide from being committed by a potentially suicidal teenager.

It is possible to minimize or avoid teenage suicide by education. Parents should be educated and encouraged to speak about suicide with their children and ensure that their kids understand that their parents are there for them. Teachers, clinicians, and clergy members should not be afraid to speak about suicide with children. If they think one of their peers is potentially suicidal, young people should be taught about suicide and encouraged to act. If there were more ways to get a suicide message out such as TV ads, magazine reports, or even talk shows, maybe one would have more suicide-related information.

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Leading Causes of Suicide among Teenagers across America: Critical Analysis. (2022, December 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 6, 2023, from
“Leading Causes of Suicide among Teenagers across America: Critical Analysis.” Edubirdie, 27 Dec. 2022,
Leading Causes of Suicide among Teenagers across America: Critical Analysis. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 Jun. 2023].
Leading Causes of Suicide among Teenagers across America: Critical Analysis [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 27 [cited 2023 Jun 6]. Available from:
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