Suicide as a cause of death among adolescents in the United States is increasingly capturing the attention of communities. Approximately 7.66 per 100,000 youth ages 15¬-19 years commit suicide each year. …
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Suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth and adolescents ages 15-24 years old, indicating that all youth are at great risk for suicide (American Association of Suicidology 1). Suicide is now the fourth leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10-14 (Crosby 2). Suicide can affect all youth regardless of ethnicity or socioeconomic status; however, there have been rapid increases within specific ethnic groups. In order to address this issue among our high school age students, it is important to analyze who is at greatest risk, to identify risk factors, and to identify potential protective factors. Additionally, suicide prevention and early intervention programs implemented in schools should be assessed regarding their effectiveness. What is not effective should be modified accordingly. Ethnic Differences European American, African American, Hispanic, and Native American youth are all affected by suicide. Suicide among our youth is most prevalent for white males (Crosby, 5). According to the Centers for Disease Control, 73% of all suicides involving adults are white males. However, in the last two decades, among African American male youth ages 10-14, suicide rates have tripled and for ages 15-19 the suicide rate has doubled (Capuzzi 38). Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control has- identified that the Hispanic youth suicide rate is increasing. Furthermore, their rates of suicide ideation and attempts are increasing at staggering numbers (O'Donnell et al., 39-40). Native American youth also have history of a high rate of suicide attempts (Capuzzi, 38). Although the European American population has always represented the highest proportion of suicides among all ethnic groups, it is important to view all of our youth, regardless of ethnicity, as at-risk, considering the recent changes in suicide statistics in the last decade. Different factors contribute to the reasons for suicide attempts for each ethnic group. This needs to be considered when creating an effective youth suicide prevention and early intervention program. Currently, European American youth are the primary recipients of crisis intervention dealing with suicide in contrast with their Hispanic peers who are least likely to receive interventions (Kataoka, Stein, Leiberman, & Wong, 1444). This may be influencing the increases in suicide attempts and completions among this demographic group. Risk Factors for Suicide There has not been a specific profile created to early identify all youth at risk for suicide ideation or suicide attempts. The literature does suggest, however, that there are some common identifying characteristics to consider, although alone they are not indicators. Some common characteristics of youth may warrant the attention of adults to better evaluate these students for suicide ideation. Since suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents in the United States, it is key to train the community to identify those at risk. Stressors youth are dealing with may be the trigger for suicide attempts, which are often impulsive responses by youth to escape their problems (Crosby 2). The impulsivity of the act further indicates the need for early intervention among youth dealing with dramatic or life-impacting circumstances. Research has noted some behaviors that may be exhibited by a youth who has suicide ideation. These behaviors include, but are not limited to, the lack of concern for personal welfare, social changes, decline in school performance, including attendance patterns, change in eating and sleeping habits, a new preoccupation with violence and death, increased sexually promiscuity, and other risky behaviors, including substance use (Capuzzi, 40; Guo & Harstall, 11-15). Not all
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