Adolescence Contemporary Issues and Resources

There is no dispute about the problems teenagers face today: they are different and multiplied from what their parents faced. More teenagers think about committing suicide today, and it is the second most common way that people aged 10 to 34 die. People attempt suicide when they feel that life has nothing left to offer. This feeling may arise because of issues with their peer relationships, family issues, poor academic performance, poor self-esteem, poor body image, and/or bullying. Suicide is a major problem for teenagers, but there are ways to intervene and prevent those who attempt it from being successful.

Teen Suicide and its External Stressors

The parents of today’s teens did not attempt or commit suicide at the same rate that today’s children do. Curtin and Heron (2019) of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explain, “The suicide rate among persons aged 10–24 was stable from 2000 to 2007, and then increased 56% between 2007 (6.8 per 100,000) and 2017” (Curtin & Heron, 2019, pp. 1-2). The stress on children today is much more intense than it was even 20 years ago. The pressure to make good grades and get into good colleges, the worry about the future with climate change and increasing violence, the stress of avoiding alcohol and other substances that teens often experiment with as they try to find their way in the world, and the constant presence of bullying by others are all reasons that teens give for attempting suicide.

Assessment Strategies

Teens may not always tell someone they are contemplating suicide, but there are ways to detect a change in a teenagers behavior. For instance, a once talkative teen may become moody and withdrawn. While this may be normal teenage behavior, it could have causes unrelated to hormonal changes. Parents, teachers and friends should ask a teen if they are experiencing problems when they notice unusual behavior. Stoppler (2019) of Medicine Net lists several ways a teen may show warning signs that they are thinking about committing suicide besides behavior changes. For instance, a teen who has had trouble in romantic relationships or just in peer relationships may be at risk, if the teen’s schoolwork suffers, if their appearance and hygiene declines. if they become rebellious, give away their possessions, seem bored or distracted, talk, write or draw pictures about death, change their eating habits, start using alcohol or drugs, have sleep disturbances, or talk even in a joking way about suicide, parents, teachers and friends should be concerned (Stoppler, 2019). While some of these things may just be normal behavior that does not indicate the teen is thinking about committing suicide, none of them should be ignored.

Simply asking a teenager if they are “all right” may not be enough because they will tell concerned adults they are just so they do not have to share their feelings. However, friends who the teen trusts can intervene, and every child should be taught how to recognize the warning signs in their friends so that they can share their concerns with an adult who can get the teen some help. Even if the teen does resent an adult intervening by asking or by making an appointment with a psychologist, eventually the teen will recover and realize that it was a loving gesture rather than controlling interference. The New York State Department of Health (2018) says that parents should talk openly with their teens or ask a pastor, rabbi or other religious leader, or a respected teacher to discuss it with the child (Health NY, 2018). Parents should also seek help immediately. Psychologists know what to say to a teenager who may be contemplating suicide.

Support Options

Several choices of support options exist. Religious leaders are one important support option, but there are many secular options too such as health departments and suicide prevention hotlines. These resources can not only help the teen but let parents know that they can do take some concrete action that helps to prevent their child from taking their own lives such as remove objects with which a teen may attempt suicide and not leaving the teen alone. While these seem extreme, if they prevent a child from dying by their own hand, they would not be considered extreme by anyone.


Teen suicide is more prevalent today because life is more complicated than it was 20 years ago. Being able to detect suicidal behavior is important. Knowing how to intervene and prevent it is even more important.


Curtin, S. C., & Heron, M. (2019, October). Death Rates Due to Suicide and Homicide Among. Retrieved from Center for Disease Control and Prevetion:

Health NY. (2018). Suicide Prevention, Children Ages 10 to 19 Years. Retrieved from New York State Department of Health:

Stoppler, M. C. (2019). Teen Suicide Warning Signs. Retrieved from Medicine Net: