Why Do Teens Commit Suicide? Causes of Teen Suicide
When a suicide occurs, people want to know, why do teens commit suicide? Some people consider their teenage years the happiest years of their lives, so a teen suicide just doesn't make sense to them. But teens can suffer real pain and be in terrible situations and these can cause teen suicides.
Why Do Teens Commit Suicide? Emotional Causes
Most teens who have been interviewed after a suicide attempt say that what causes teen suicide are feelings of hopelessness and helplessness. Suicidal teens often feel like they are in situations that have no solutions. The teens can see no way out but death. The teens feel like they have no control to change their situations.
Other emotional teen suicide causes stem from trying to escape feelings of pain, rejection, hurt, being unloved, victimization or loss. Teens may feel like their feelings are unbearable and will never end, so the only way to escape is suicide.
Teens may also be afraid of disappointing others or feel like they are a burden to others, such as their parents, and these can be additional causes of teen suicide.
Teen Suicide Causes – Environmental Causes
Situations often drive the emotional causes of suicide. Bullying, cyberbullying, abuse, a detrimental home life, loss of a loved one or even a severe breakup can by contributing causes of teen suicide. Often, many of these environmental factors occur together to cause suicidal feelings and behaviors.
Ethan felt like there was no point going on with life. Things had been tough since his mom died. His dad was working two jobs and seemed frazzled and angry most of the time. Whenever he and Ethan talked, it usually ended in yelling.
Ethan had just found out he'd failed a math test, and he was afraid of how mad and disappointed his dad would be. In the past, he always talked things over with his girlfriend — the only person who seemed to understand. But they'd broken up the week before, and now Ethan felt he had nowhere to turn.
Ethan later went on to seek out his dad's gun with which to attempt to take his life.
As in the above example, it is typical that many factors – both emotional and environmental – contribute to the cause of a teen suicide or teen suicide attempt.
Mental Illness as a Cause of Teen Suicide
While all the above are driving factors of teen suicide, often the underlying issue is one of a mental illness. Most teens who attempt suicide do so because of depression, bipolar disorder or borderline personality disorder. These disorders amplify the pain a teen may feel. It is because of this that any suicidal teen should be treated by a medical professional.
Why Teens Commit Suicide
What's important to remember is that teens attempt or commit suicide not because of a desire to die, but, rather, in an attempt to escape a bad situation and/or painful feelings. It's rare that only a single event leads to suicide. This means that by helping a teen turn around a bad situation or by teaching her or him how better to deal with painful feelings, we can defeat the causes of teen suicide. Most times, this requires professional help by a doctor or a psychotherapist and may also involve the teen's school, such as in cases of teen bullying.
Last Updated: 17 June 2016
Reviewed by Harry Croft, MD