Adolescent Suicide Shakes Our Community

Recent events in our local high school again demonstrates the need for a proactive, prevention approach to identifying depression and suicidal intent in adolescents. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), suicide is the third leading cause of death for individuals 15 to 24 years old. The National Institute of Mental Health states that more than 90% of suicides have risk factors that include depression and/or a substance abuse disorder. Other contributory external factors/stressors include interpersonal losses, divorce, family violence, sexual orientation confusion, bullying or physical/sexual abuse. The result of such factors has produced 1 million teenage suicide attempts and 1,700 deaths.


Prevention can be largely successful with specific targets in a screening protocol. A screening procedure needs to focus on any preoccupation with death or self-harm, reports of losses such as death, divorce, broken relationships, self-esteem, friends or favorite activities. Additional factors contributing to suicide risk includes a change in personality, behavior, sleep patterns, eating habits, fear of losing control, and a loss of hope for the future.

When faced with such a disturbing reality as adolescent suicide, it is often difficult to discuss it. However, it is imperative that parents and educators take steps to be informed. Below are some agencies, websites, and crises contacts that can provide education, crisis intervention and support.

  • American Society of Suicidology
  • American Foundation of Suicide Prevention (
  • STOP a Suicide Today Screening for Mental Health
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK
  • Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE) 1-800-SUICIDE
  • National Mental Health Association (
  • National Youth Violence Prevention Resource Center (
  • National Institute of Mental Health (
  • Beacon Tree Foundation (
  • Local Community Mental Health Centers, Crisis Hotline

Charles S. McGee, Ph.D., LCP

Family Guidance Centers provides comprehensive mental health services in our 3 office locations. Please call 804-743-0960 or visit our website at