Posted: March 30th, 2022

Intentional termination of one’s life essay

Suicide in Adolescents


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Adolescents comprise an especially vulnerable group as far as suicide is concerned. This paper discusses a number of aspects relating to suicide in adolescents. Following a definition of the concept of suicide, attention is paid to the risk factor, contributing factors, prevalence of the risk, the role of healthcare practitioners in addressing the issue, ways of identifying and addressing the problem, as well as help and support resources.




Suicide is essentially defined as the deliberate or intentional termination of one’s life (Capuzzi & Golden, 2013). An individual causes their own death using drugs, poisonous substances, and firearms. Suicide can also be committed through hanging, suffocation, and falling (Shain & AAP Committee on Adolescence, 2016). It should be noted that self-injury and assisted suicide are not forms of suicide (Capuzzi & Golden, 2013).


Overview of the Risk Factor


Suicide is a major risk factor for death among adolescents. In the course of growing up, adolescents experience circumstances that may predispose them to suicidal ideation (Capuzzi & Golden, 2013). Events such as parental divorce and abandonment can be stressful and confusing for teenagers, eventually leading to suicide (American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry [AACAP], 2013). For some teenagers, suicide is viewed as a permanent solution for stress and difficult life situations. Addressing suicide in teenagers is important given the role of young people in the society.


Contributing Factors


Teenage suicide can be predicted by several factors. One of the major factors relates to family difficulties (AACAP, 2013). The umbrella of family difficulties carries many aspects, including conflicts with parents, denial of privileges by parents, parental divorce or separation, financial problems, as well as death of family members. Such events can be overwhelming for teenagers, ultimately resulting in suicide. Other contributing factors include bullying (offline and online), sexual assault, social isolation, mental disorder (e.g. posttraumatic disorder), substance abuse, chronic medical conditions (e.g. HIV), socioeconomic background (e.g. racial background), family history of suicide, as well as media pressure (Shain & AAP Committee on Adolescence, 2016).


Prevalence of the Risk


According to AACAP, suicide among adolescents remains a major concern. Statistics indicate that thousands of adolescents commit suicide every year, with suicide being ranked as the third top cause of death in people aged 15 to 24 years (AACAP, 2013). In 2013 alone, 1,748 suicides were recorded among 15-19-year-olds (Shain & AAP Committee on Adolescence, 2016). The figure could be much higher given that some suicides are either unaccounted for or recorded as accidental. Recent data from the Centres for Disease Control Prevention (CDC) (2017) further shows that suicide rates among teens were 14.2 per 100,000 population, a 31% increase compared to 2007 (see Figure 1). Moreover, suicide is more prevalent among teenage boys compared teenage girls (CDC, 2017).


Figure 1: Prevalence of teenage suicides in the U.S.




(Source: CDC, 2017)


Role of Healthcare Practitioners


Healthcare practitioners, especially those in the field of paediatrics, have a crucial role to play in addressing teenage suicide. This role encompasses understanding risk factors and symptoms of suicidal behaviour, providing care to suicidal teenagers, educating parents on adolescent suicide, interrogating teenagers, screening for the absence of mental disorders such as depression, and recommending referral to specialised care if necessary (Shain & AAP Committee on Adolescence, 2016). The role of healthcare practitioners also involves advocacy. This mainly entails mobilising local, state, and policymakers to provide more resources for treating and preventing teenage suicide (Capuzzi & Golden, 2013).


Ways of Identifying and Addressing the Issue


Like many forms of mental disorder, suicidal feels can be treated. Nonetheless, the problem must be identified before it is too late. When parents observe abnormal behavioural and/or psychological problems in their teenagers, they should immediately seek psychiatric help. Major symptoms of suicidal thoughts include changes in sleeping and eating patterns, withdrawal from family, friends and regular activities, violent and rebellious behaviours, as well as substance and alcohol abuse (AACAP, 2013). Suicidal feelings may also be associated with unusual loss of weight, low self-esteem, abnormal disregard for personal appearance, noticeable changes in personality, unending boredom, concentration difficulties, diminished interest in enjoyable activities, hallucinations, and verbal statements suggesting a sense of worthlessness or the intention to kill oneself (AACAP, 2013). If one or more of these symptoms are observed, appropriate diagnosis should be performed and psychiatric therapy administered if the diagnosis turns out positive.


Recommended Activity, Help, and Support Resources


It is important for suicide interventions to be tailored to the specific needs of the teenager (Shain & AAP Committee on Adolescence, 2016). Spending time with peers, participating in pleasurable activities, and introducing screening programs in school could be useful activities for preventing teen suicide (Capuzzi & Golden, 2013). In addition to prevention activities, there are numerous resources aimed at preventing suicide, helping victims of suicidal feelings, and raising teen suicide awareness. These include informational booklets (usually provided by governmental, non-governmental, and healthcare organisations), learning institutions, community centres, online resources (e.g. websites and videos), and hotlines (e.g. National Suicide Hotline and National Suicide Prevention Hotline). These resources are useful for victims of suicidal feelings, parents, schools, and healthcare providers.








American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP). (2013). Teen suicide. Retrieved from Guide/Teen-Suicide-010.aspx


Capuzzi, D., & Golden, L. (2013). Preventing adolescent suicide. New York: Routledge.


Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2017). Quick stats: Suicide rates for teens aged 15-19 years, by sex – United States, 1975-2015. Retrieved from


Shain, B., & AAP Committee Adolescence. (2016). Suicide and suicide attempts in adolescents. Paediatrics, 138(1), e20161420.

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