Why Are More Youths Thinking About and Attempting Suicide?

Why Are More Youths Thinking About and Attempting Suicide?

Why Are More Youths Thinking About and Attempting Suicide?

More than double the amount of children are hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and attempts to kill themselves than just ten years earlier, but explanations for the increase are lacking.

To meet this challenge, an interdisciplinary group of researchers from the United States is launching a consortium aimed at increasing diversity in suicide research among children, adolescents, and young adults. The Youth Suicide Research Consortium (YSRC) includes researchers from 22 institutions (colleges, universities, and medical centers), including John Jay College Professor of Psychology Dr. Elizabeth Jeglic

“While traditionally, individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups were less likely to die by suicide, rising rates of death by suicide are also being observed in these groups,” said Professor Jeglic. “LGTBQIA youth are also particularly high risk to attempt or die by suicide.”

Researchers from the consortium are dedicated to the study of youth suicidal behavior among diverse populations, including racially, ethnically, and socioeconomically diverse, sexual minority, and gender-diverse youth, with an emphasis on understanding and decreasing disparities to reduce youth suicide.

“My research has been focused on understanding social and cultural factors that may account for increased rates of attempts to die by suicide among Latinx youth and emerging adults in order to better inform prevention and intervention programs,” added Jeglic.

YSRC says that more people think about and attempt suicide in their teens and early twenties than they do at any other time in development, across race and ethnicity.

However, while the suicide rate among White (non-Hispanic) Americans is highest in middle age, the suicide rate among racial and ethnic minorities is highest in the early twenties. Additionally, national surveys of high school students suggest racial disparities in suicidal thoughts and attempts. Sexual minority youth are particularly vulnerable to attempting and dying by suicide.

YSRC researchers believe that with the increasing diversity of the US population – particularly among youth – it is critical for theories and research on youth suicide and for suicide prevention to keep pace with shifting demographics by increasing representation of these groups in research. The YSRC seeks to accomplish this goal by fostering multilevel and cross-disciplinary conceptualizations of and research on youth suicide and self-harm in the United States and other parts of the world, and by encouraging suicide research that considers development and diversity.

The YSRC hopes to disseminate research findings among families, teachers, clinicians, youth, policy makers, media, and other consumers who are not researchers or academics but for whom suicidal behaviors are of concern; and to empower researchers from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines to advance in their careers by mentoring aspiring and junior researchers interested in the study of youth suicidal behavior.

The YSRC also hopes to serve as a model for similar efforts in other countries. For more information, or if interested in joining or partnering with the YSRC, please visit www.youthsuicideresearch.org, www.blog.youthsuicideresearch.org, or contact info@youthsuicideresearch.org. You can also follow the YSRC on Twitter @youthsuicideres.