How prevalent is teen suicide, and has the rate changed over time?
The most recent national data we have is from 2017 and nearly 3,000 teens died by suicide that year. Each of these suicides is a tragedy that cuts short a life and leaves many loved ones, friends, and community members struggling with an unfathomable loss. With young people, suicide may be especially painful because there's so much life unlived, and I think we, as adults, feel a strong responsibility to protect our youth and prevent such outcomes.

Teen suicide gets a great deal of media attention and is the focus of my research program, but teens are not more vulnerable to suicide than other populations. As context, it’s important to keep in mind that the suicide rate is higher among adults than it is among teens. There are certainly more people in their twenties, in middle age, and in their older years who die by suicide. Every suicide is a tragedy, no matter when it occurs.

But despite increased national attention, suicide awareness activities, and increased research on preventive interventions and treatments, the overall suicide rate and the teen suicide rate have been going up in our nation. This is a major public health concern. There is an urgent need to develop and implement effective suicide prevention strategies. Suicide is, ultimately, preventable. A public health model that combines preventive strategies, such as improving coping and resilience for all youth, making sure effective treatment is available, providing crisis intervention services for those most at risk, and safely storing firearms will likely be needed to achieve this goal.

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