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Youth Suicide Prevention

State and national records show that suicide is the second leading cause of death in youth ages 10-19, with accidents being the first. Suicide is the leading cause of death among college students. The most recent figures show that Maine has consistently higher suicide rates than the national average. The average suicide rate for youth in Maine ages 15-19 is almost 20 percent higher than the U.S. average, while the rate for ages 10-14 has nearly doubled since the 1980's. In 2011, the national suicide rate per 100,000 was 11.0 for ages 15-24. (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention).

Why Do Youth Commit Suicide?

While there are no definitive answers for why adolescents attempt and complete suicide, there is general agreement that youth who take their own lives feel hopeless about their situation and believe it will never change. Suicide seems to be a response to seemingly intolerable pain. It appears a complex set of factors interact with the youth's biological, emotional, intellectual and social stages of development. Some factors which contribute to suicide are listed below.

Depression due to chemical imbalance; physical illness; physical disability; learning disability; chemical changes during puberty; or, physical dependency on drugs or alcohol.

Sadness; stress; impulsive behavior; a sense of powerlessness; loss, grief; loneliness; low self-esteem; anger or rage; guilt; hopelessness; a sense of being overwhelmed; anxiety; confusion about sexual identity/orientation; emotional dependency on chemical substances.

Inability to communicate feelings; perfectionism; pressure to achieve or perform; self- criticism; unrealistic view of death; revenge; exaggeration of faults.

Isolation; withdrawal; friendlessness; lack of social skills; unpopularity; feelings of not belonging; embarrassment before peers; labeled as "crazy," "stupid," or "different;" in trouble at home; school or with the law; a runaway.

Suicide is tragic, but it is also preventable. For more information on youth suicide and to learn what you can do to help, view our resources on the right.

If you are in Maine and are in a crisis now, please call the confidential statewide crisis hotline at 1-888-568-1112.
If you are outside the state of Maine, please call your local crisis response service or 911.
If you need help from Acadia Hospital, please call 973-6100 or 1-800-640-1211 and ask for the Access Center.