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Approximately 5,000 to 6,000 adolescents in the United States commit suicide annually. The number of completions has tripled since the 1950s. The number of attempts may be as high as 500,000 per year.
We know these figures are not merely a result of better reporting. Our society is more stressful. Drug and alcohol abuse exacerbates the problem, and the means to commit suicide are more readily available.
As you have probably heard, those most likely to commit suicide are people who have threatened it or attempted it in the past and have a serious emotional disturbance. It is shocking that 60 percent of teenagers think about suicide and as many as 8 to 10 percent actually attempt it.
Contrary to common perception, children as young as elementary school age increasingly attempt suicide. The probability that they will complete it, however, increases with age.
Younger children don't usually know how to fatally injure themselves. They sometimes carry out actions that they hear adults describe as deadly. For example, they run into traffic because they are aware that "you can get killed crossing in front of moving cars." Both girls and boys are vulnerable to suicide. However, boys are more likely to use a violent means, such as shooting themselves, while girls are more likely to take pills. Overall, approximately 80 percent of all suicides are boys.
No socioeconomic status is immune, and children and teens with all types of personalities and temperaments can be victims. A child doesn't have to be a stoic type or be depressed to contemplate suicide. Emotionally and physically challenged children are also capable of suicide.
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