Defining the Problem

Suicide Affects Thousands

In 2011 in the United States, 39,518 lives were cut short by suicide.   That means that suicide ends one life every 13.3 minutes.  For every life lost, thousands more are affected by the loss of a child, parent, friend or co-worker.  It is a silent epidemic that takes more lives than AIDS or homicide and is vastly underreported by the media.

  • For every HIV/AIDS attributed death, there are two deaths due to suicide.
  • For every two homicides in the US, there are three deaths by suicide.
  • When measuring the impact of suicide, we must also account for the lives affected by suicide attempts.
  • 1,500 Americans attempt suicide every day (one attempt every minute)
  • For every suicide death there are 22 emergency room visits and 5 hospitalizations.

Suicide Affects the Young

Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for young people (ages 10-24). According to National Institute of Mental Health, “more teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia and influenza, and chronic lung disease, COMBINED.”  In 2011, 4,822 young people took their own lives; more than one death every 2 hours.  When suicide attempts and ideation are taken into account, the number of youth affected jumps exponentially.   In fact, in 2012 approximately 16% of high school students reported seriously considering suicide within the past 12 months.

Depression Puts Youth at Risk

Research has identified risk factors for suicide, providing hope for treatment and prevention. The 2001 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention, published by the US Department of Health and Human Services gives a comprehensive list of risk factors for suicide, including: mood disorders and other psychological disorders, alcohol and substance abuse disorders, and social isolation.  Untreated depression has been identified as the leading cause of suicide.

Teen Depression is Common

  • Approximately 20 percent of teens will experience depression before they reach adulthood.
  • Between 10 to 15 percent of teenagers have some symptoms of depression at any one time.
  • Depression increases a teen’s risk for attempting suicide by 12 times.
  • 30 percent of teens with depression also develop a substance abuse problem.
  • Depressed teens usually have a smaller social circle and take advantage of fewer career and educational opportunities.
  • Depressed teens are more likely to have trouble at school and in jobs, and to struggle with relationships.

Suicide is a Silent Epidemic at Our Colleges

College students are at great risk for depression and suicide.  The following statistics point to the importance of education, awareness and prevention.
  • In 2004, suicide was the third leading cause of death in college-age students (18 to 24 year olds).
  • In 2013, the American College Health Association survey revealed the following
    • 15 percent of graduate and 18 percent of undergraudate students report they have seriously considered suicide in their lifetimes.
    • 27 percent of college students reported feeling “so depressed that it was difficult to function”
    • 6.9% seriously considered suicide and 1.5% had made a suicide attempt

A Call to Action

Depression is treatable, suicide is not.  Depression and suicide do not discriminate based on age, race or socioeconomic class.  Everyone is at risk.  We must focus on prevention, addressing depression and related risk factors. I Need A Lighthouse, Inc. (INAL) is committed to educating teens and young adults about depression and suicide.  Through education and prevention we can save lives and prevent needless suffering.