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 Teen Depression Statistics

Most teens with depression will suffer from more than one episode.

  • Episodes of teen depression generally last about 8 months.
  • 15% of teens with depression eventually develop bipolar disorder.
  • 30 percent of teens suffering from depression will develop problem with substance abuse.
  • 60–80% of teens who suffer from depression go untreated.
  • Nearly 50% of depressed teens have a family member with depression
    or other mental disorder.

Signs of Major Depression in Teens

(Five or more symptoms persist for at least 2 weeks)

  • Continual irritability
  • Frequent complaints of illness (headache, stomachache, nausea, fatigue)
  • Persistent sadness or episodes of crying
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and usual activities
  • Failure to gain normal weight or weight gain
  • Difficulty with sleep (insomnia, early morning waking or sleeping too much)
  • Persistent boredom
  • Oppositional and/or negative behavior
  • Poor school performance or frequent school absence

Suicide Statistics

  • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among youths ages 15-20.
  • Suicides are up 76% in girls aged 10-14.
  • Suicides are up 32% in girls aged 15-19.
  • Suicides are up 9% in boys aged 15-19.
  • Suicide rates for 10-14 year-olds increased 51% in the last 20 years.
  • 27% of high school students had thought seriously about attempting suicide.
  • 16% of students had made a specific plan to attempt suicide.
  • 8% of students had attempted
  • The rate of suicide by hanging/suffocation is the most common method among girls 10 to 14.
  • Use of a firearm is still the most common method for boys.

Risk Factors for Suicide

  • Psychological disorder: depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol and drug use
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Family history of depression or suicide
  • Suicide of others: family, peers or media figures
  • Recent loss: breakup, death of a loved one or pet, divorce
  • Physical or sexual abuse
  • Self-harming: cutting, burning, picking skin, tearing out hair
  • Homosexuality in an unsupportive environment

Why Do Children Attempt Suicide?

  • Change: Suicide is a way to change how the child feels or what is happening at that moment.
  • Choice: Suicidal behavior is a means to make a choice during circumstances in which there are no choices, or important choices are being taken away.
  • Control: The suicidal act is meant to stop behavior, control events or effect change in others.
  • Self Punishment: Suicidal behavior is a means to relieve guilt or punish oneself. The child believes he deserves to die.
  • Punish Others: The suicidal act is intended to inflict harm or punishment on others,
    including revenge.
  • Psychotic Illness: The suicidal act is the result of a mental illness or severe medical problem affecting a child’s mental status.

Suicide Warning Signs

  • Talks about suicide or makes statements such as: “I won’t be a problem for you much longer”, “It’s no use” and “I won’t see you again”.
  • Sudden change in eating habits, either gaining or losing 10% of normal body weight.
  • Change in sleeping habits, particularly waking up early.
  • Impulsive and aggressive behavior; frequent expressions of rage.
  • Withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities.
  • A teen is using drugs and/or alcohol.
  • The teen shows an unusual neglect of personal appearance.
  • A marked personality change; you know your child, trust your instincts.
  • Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating, or a decline in the quality of schoolwork.
  • Frequent complaints of physical symptoms, including fatigue.
  • The teen/child gives away favorite possessions/toys, cleans his or her room out.
  • He/she exhibits notable cheerfulness after a period of depression.

What Parents Can Do

  • Recognize the warning signals.
  • Express your concern and offer your support.
  • Ask directly about the suicidal thoughts.
  • Take every suicide threat, comment or action seriously.
  • Listen. You do not have to solve the child’s problem or offer advice.
  • Encourage the expression of feelings and offer non-judgmental acceptance.
  • Share your feelings: that you too have felt alone, sad, or hopeless at some time.
  • Offer hope that alternatives are available.
  • Do not offer oversimplified or false reassurances.

What should I do if I think someone is suicidal?

  • Do not leave him or her alone.
  •  Get the person to a hospital emergency room, psychiatric hospital or call 911 or ambulance.
  • Eliminate access to firearms or other potential tools for suicide, including unsupervised access to medications.

South Africa Resources:

South African Depression & Anxiety
Harnessing Happiness

USA Resources

National Institute of Mental
Mental Health
National Suicide Prevention Hotline-800-SUICIDE
Teen Suicide
Information and
Book-Daily Guide to Coping with Depression,

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