Youth who receive special education services under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA 2004) and especially young adults of transition age, should be involved in planning for life after high school as early as possible and no later than age 16. Transition services should stem from the individual youth’s needs and strengths, ensuring that planning takes into account his or her interests, preferences, and desires for the future.
Groups with Increased Risk
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among the nation’s teenagers.1 Approximately one out of every 15 high school students reports attempting suicide each year.2 For some groups of youth—including those who are involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems; lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender; American Indian/Alaska Native; and military service members—the incidence of suicidal behavior is even higher.3
Youth involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems have a high prevalence of many risk factors for mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders associated with suicide. Juveniles in confinement and foster care have life histories that put them at higher suicide risk.4 Suicide among youth in contact with the juvenile justice system occurs at a rate about four times greater than the rate among youth in the general population.5 In one study, children in foster care were almost three times more likely to have considered suicide and almost four times more likely to have attempted suicide than those who had never been in foster care.6
Lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) youth are nearly one and a half to three times more likely to have reported suicidal ideation and nearly one and a half to seven times more likely to have reported attempting suicide than non-LGB youth.7 Some groups of LGB youth are at particular risk: those who are homeless, have run away from home, are living in foster care, and/or are involved in the juvenile justice system.8 Many surveys show high rates of suicidal behavior in the transgender population.9
Suicide rates are much higher among American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) youth than among youth overall. In 2009, the rate of suicide among AI/AN youth aged 10 to 18 years was 10.37 per 100,000, compared with an overall rate of 3.95 per 100,000.10 Suicide is the second leading cause of death among AI/AN youth aged 10 to 34 years, with young men aged 20 to 24 having the highest rate in the AI/AN population (40.79 deaths per 100,000).11 Although suicide rates vary widely among individual tribes, it is estimated that 14 to 27 percent of AI/AN adolescents have attempted suicide.12
In 2010, military service members who were white and under the age of 25, junior enlisted (E1–E4), or high school educated were at increased risk for suicide relative to comparison groups in the general population.13
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (8255)
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is a 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. When you call 1-800-273-TALK (8255), you are connected to the nearest crisis center in a national network of more than 150 that provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals day and night. The Lifeline also provides informational materials, such as brochures, wallet cards, posters, and booklets. Prestamos servicios en español (1-888-628-9454). Translators speaking approximately 150 languages are available.
2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention: Goals and Objectives for Action (PDF, 184 pages)
The National Strategy is a call to action from the U.S. Surgeon General and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention to guide suicide prevention in the United States. The National Strategy includes 13 goals and 60 objectives that reflect advances in suicide prevention knowledge, research, and practice, as well as broader changes in society and health care delivery. It also includes an appendix with information on groups with increased risk.
Juvenile Suicide in Confinement: A National Survey (PDF, 68 pages)
This report from the U.S. Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP) presents findings from the first national survey of juvenile suicides in confinement and offers recommendations for preventing suicide in juvenile facilities.
Suicide Prevention in Juvenile Correctional Facilities
Links to resources on suicide prevention among youth in contact with the juvenile justice system from the Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC).
Foster Care Providers: Helping Youth at Risk for Suicide (PDF, 7 pages)
This information sheet by the SPRC addresses suicide prevention among youth in foster care. It is written for professionals and volunteers who interact with foster children or work with their caregivers.
Suicide Risk and Prevention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth (PDF, 63 pages)
This paper by the SPRC highlights the higher risk of suicidal behavior among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth and provides recommendations to reduce risk.
Suicide Prevention Among LGBT Youth: A Workshop for Professionals Who Serve Youth
This workshop kit by the SPRC helps staff in schools, youth-serving organizations, and suicide prevention programs take action to reduce suicidal behavior among lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) youth.
The Trevor Project
This national organization provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth.
Indian Health Service American Indian/Alaska Native Suicide Prevention Website
This Indian Health Service website provides AI/AN communities with culturally appropriate information about best and promising practices, training opportunities, tools for adapting mainstream programs to tribal needs, ongoing activities, potential partnerships, and other information on suicide prevention and intervention.
American Indian/Alaska Native National Suicide Prevention Strategic Plan (2011–2015) (PDF, 18 pages)
This strategic plan from the Indian Health Service provides a comprehensive and integrated approach to reducing the loss and suffering that result from suicidal behaviors among the AI/AN population.
Adolescent Suicide Prevention Program Manual: A Public Health Model for Native American Communities (PDF, 57 pages)
The Adolescent Suicide Prevention Program significantly lowered youth suicide rates in a Native community in the Southwest United States. This manual from the SPRC outlines methods for community involvement, culturally framed public health approaches, outreach efforts, behavioral health programs, program evaluation, and sustainability.
To Live To See the Great Day That Dawns: Preventing Suicide by American Indian and Alaska Native Youth and Young Adults (PDF, 184 pages)
This guide from the SPRC supports AI/AN communities in developing effective, culturally appropriate, and comprehensive suicide prevention planning and postvention responses for youth and young adults.
Ensuring the Seventh Generation: A Youth Suicide Prevention Toolkit for Tribal Child Welfare Programs (PDF, 50 pages)
This toolkit from the National Indian Child Welfare Association is for tribal child welfare workers and care providers. It discusses risk factors, warning signs, and prevention and intervention strategies that can be applied in child welfare agencies as well as mobilization of support networks for children.
U.S. Department of Defense Suicide Prevention Website
This Department of Defense website provides information on recognizing symptoms of those at risk for suicide, links to suicide prevention in each branch of the military, and a list of organizations that can provide information and assistance.
U.S. Department of Defense Restoring Hope
This web page is a central portal with links to a wide range of suicide prevention and other mental health services, self-help resources, and awareness materials for military in all branches, Veterans, providers, and families. Most of the links go to services and resources provided by the U.S. Department of Defense or U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Veterans Crisis Line
This website describes the services of the Veterans Crisis Line, a toll-free, confidential resource that connects Veterans and their families and friends with specially trained responders. It also includes information on warning signs and awareness and campaign materials.
Interagency Task Force On Military And Veterans Mental Health 2013 Interim Report (PDF, 74 pages)
In 2012, the President signed an Executive Order directing the U.S. Departments of Veterans Affairs, Defense, and Health and Human Services—in coordination with other federal agencies—to take steps to ensure that Veterans, Service Members, and their families receive the mental health services and supports they need. This report summarizes action steps undertaken, including suicide prevention.
1 CDC, 2011
2 Eaton et al., 2010
3 HHS, 2012
4 HHS, 2012
5 HHS, 2012
6 Pilowsky & Wu, 2006
7 SPRC, 2008
8 SPRC, 2008
9 HHS, 2012
10 CDC, 2009
11 CDC, 2009
12 HHS, 2012
13 DOD, 2011