Every year thousands of teens die in the United States, not from cancer or car accidents, but by their own hand; they make the choice that they want to die, and they take their own life. Statistics conducted in 1996 reveal that every 42 seconds a teenager attempts suicide and every 16.9 minutes a teenager completes it (World Future Society). Many people think that the latter is not factual, and they try to sweep the matter of teen suicide under the carpet. Yet it is all true. Suicide is the fastest growing killer of youth in America (www.yellowribbon.org), and "if left unaddressed, it will help bring about disastrous consequences for [the United States] in the future (World Future Society).” So let us proceed in dealing with the vast teen suicide problem by first recognizing it as a national dilemma, then by educating our youth about it, and finally by providing greater access to resources dealing with it.
Teenage suicide is indeed a great plight in the United States. It is the eighth leading cause of all deaths in the country; third for persons aged 15 to 24 (Waters and Ingrassia). Statistics show that more than 13 of every 100,000 teenager took their life in 1990, and that number's rising every year. It is further revealed that an estimated 500,000 teenagers kill themselves every year, and about 5000 succeed. "5000 - that is right up there with cancer and homicide” (www.spanusa.org). In fact, suicide kills teens 3 to 6 times more than homicide. Although suicide rates over the past 40 years are relatively stable, the incidence of suicide among 15-24 year olds has tripled, while the rate among 15-19 year olds has quadrupled (Garner and Rosenberg). Additionally, the suicide completion for young people in the same age bracket has tripled among young men according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (Brown University). A further study conducted by the Gallup Organization shows that 5% of American teenagers today say that they have tried to commit suicide.