Why Do Teens Want To Kill Themselves?

A student at a suburban Cincinnati high school shot himself in the head around 8 a.m. Monday morning, during his first period class.

He is currently in critical condition at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center.

What horrible thoughts could have pushed this young man to commit such an act in front of his peers?

Right after the incident at the all-male private Catholic school, several students called 911, although the teen apparently did not threaten any other students.

From Cincinnati.com:

One call came from a group of about 20 distressed students and a teacher who had locked themselves in a nearby classroom.

“We’re huddled in a corner,” a young man named Ben whispered to a Hamilton County dispatcher in one call, before handing the phone to another student who said he had been in the lab when the shooter pulled out a gun.

“I believe my teacher tried to subdue him,” Andrew told the dispatcher. “I ran out of the room.”

The family of the unidentified student at La Salle High School released a statement thanking people for their thoughts and prayers while asking for privacy, and for people to refrain from making comments on Facebook and Twitter.

It was only a month ago that we read about a similar incident in Detroit, where an eight-grader fatally shot himself at his middle school just before the school day began. The youngster was found in a bathroom by another student. He had a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

Care2 has written several times recently of the tragic cases surrounding teenage suicides: Rehtaeh Parsons, Audre Potts and Jaden Bell are just three of the victims. But there are many more.

How Many Teens Attempt Suicide?

From Reuters:

About one in 25 U.S. teens has attempted suicide, according to a new national study, and one in eight has thought about it.

Researchers said those numbers are similar to the prevalence of lifetime suicidal thinking and attempts reported by adults – suggesting the teenage years are an especially vulnerable time.

“What adults say is, the highest risk time for first starting to think about suicide is in adolescence,” said Matthew Nock, a psychologist who worked on the study at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Nock and his colleagues found that almost all teens who thought about or attempted suicide had a mental disorder, including depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or problems with drug or alcohol abuse.

The numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are slightly higher: suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.

Why Do Teens Kill Themselves?

Here’s how KidsHealth explains the depression young people experience:

Depression affects a person’s thoughts in such a way that the person doesn’t see when a problem can be overcome. It’s as if the depression puts a filter on the person’s thinking that distorts things. That’s why depressed people don’t realize that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem in the same way that other people do. A teen with depression may feel like there’s no other way out of problems, no other escape from emotional pain, or no other way to communicate a desperate unhappiness.

The problems that lead to depression are often linked to bullying and cyberbullying, but there are other issues. A former student at Palo Alto High School, in California, responded to the four suicides at her school, by describing the kind of pressure that might have driven those teens to take their own lives:

Students in Palo Alto are stressed out. They’ve been stressed for years. The school sits in the shadow of Stanford University, and students face crushing pressure from parents and the community at large to earn a spot at one of the nation’s top colleges.

Overstressed kids, under pressure to be perfect, are also susceptible to suicidal thoughts. Clinical Psychologist Madeline Levine points out that preteen and teen suicides have quadrupled since the 1950′s, and describes how affluent, high-achieving teens often become so depressed that they attempt suicide.

Nearly 60% Of All Suicides Committed With A Gun

The young man in Ohio who tried to kill himself Monday used a gun; the eighth grader in Michigan who did kill himself last month also used a gun.

Depression leads to suicidal thoughts, but the presence of a gun makes it easier to act on those thoughts.

The risk of suicide increases dramatically when kids and teens have access to firearms at home, and over half of all suicides in the United States are committed with a gun.

These tragic stories remind us once again that we need better gun safety laws.


Care2 Related Coverage

17-Yr.-Old Girl Kills Self After Rape Photo Goes Viral

15-Year-Old Jadin Bell, Targeted By Bullies, Is Dead

Bulletproof Clothes For Kids? Are You Kidding?


Photo Credit: thinkstock


Karen Gee4 years ago

Thank you for sharing

Deborah W.
Deborah W4 years ago

Suicide is wrong, everyone know it ... yet offers permanent peace when pain can no longer be tolerated.

Stil in the process of transitioning from adolescence to adulthood (with its added burden of expectations and pressures), coping becomes expecially hard if there is no open and honest communication, mentoring, etc. and hopelessness/isolation quickly set in. Then the choice becomes clear in the mind of a kid. So sad ...

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson4 years ago

I went through a terrible depression starting when i was about 6 months pregnant with my son. It was horrible. I had to get professional help, and was put on meds. I weaned myself off (with a doctors direction) when I became pregnant with my new baby :) I have done super. 3.5 years after the original onslaught and all is well finally.

Sabrina I.
Past Member 4 years ago

“Dr. Armonson stitched up her wrist wounds. Withen 5 minutes of the transfusion he declared her out of danger. Chucking her under the chin, he said, "What are you doing here, honey? Your not even old enough to know how bad life gets." And it was then Cecelia gave orally what was to be her only form of suicide note, and a useless one at that, because she was going to live: "Obviously, Doctor," she said, "you've never been a 13 year old girl.”
― Jeffrey Eugenides, The Virgin Suicides

Sabrina I.
Past Member 4 years ago

thank you

Ana Marija Rumbak
ANA MARIJA R4 years ago

well said, Bryna P.

Bryna Pizzo
Bryna Pizzo4 years ago

Thank you for the important news about teen suicide. I knew two teens who committed suicide, and two more indirectly who attempted suicide. All of them suffered from depression and/or from a great loss or terrible family ordeal. Bullying, hopelessness, heartache, and/or isolation seemed to be related to some degree. Guns shouldn't be accessible, but there are any number ways that a person can end his or her life. Suicide is a tragedy for everyone, and we must find a way to prevent it.

mitchell dawes
mitchell dawes4 years ago

I vote yes, for a different reason. It is up to the schools to prevent this from happening

Robert H.
Robert Hamm4 years ago

Sue stop trying to rationalize an irrational act. there is NO way for us to know whats in their mind. It has nothing to do with being lazy or shiftless or having an easy life.

It has nothing to do with NOT being number one. Suicide doesn't follow traditional thought patterns. Stop trying to rationalize it. There is no way to do it.

Sue T.
Susan T4 years ago

I don't think kids are being brought up with a realistic view of what real life is like. No winners or losers, everyone is equal etc etc.
The real world is not that way at all and Life is HARD work! Parents need to stop being their kids friend and buddy and be the parent.
My step son tried to commit suicide and what I saw in him was a lack of rules and boundaries.
Kids need to be taught there is right and wrong and you are not the best sometimes even if you try really really hard. Life sucks sometimes and we all need to suck it up and move on.

Suicide is very selfish. There is so much help out there now that there is no need unless you really want to hurt the people you leave behind....