Substance-Abusing Youth at Greater Risk for Suicide
Data from SAMHSA's National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
for the year 2000 show that youth who reported alcohol or illicit
drug use during the past year were more likely than those who did
not use these substances to be at risk for suicide during this time
Among youth who used alcohol, 19.6 percent thought about or attempted
suicide in the past year, compared with 8.6 percent among youth
who did not use alcohol. Among those who used illicit drugs, 25.4
percent thought about or attempted suicide compared with 9.4 percent
among those who did not use drugs.
Overall, approximately 3 million youth age 12 to 17 thought about
or attempted suicide in 2000. Unfortunately, only 36 percent of
these at-risk youth received mental health treatment during this
same time period.
"Even one death by suicide is one death too many,"
said SAMHSA Administrator Charles G. Curie, M.A., A.C.S.W. "The
challenge is to identify, evaluate, and promote community-based
suicide prevention programs that work—systems of services
in which every door can be the right door to help."
Mr. Curie noted that among SAMHSA initiatives to combat teen suicide
is the "Signs of Suicide" project that is educating
teens about depression and the signs of depression. "We need
to help teens make the link between untreated depression and the
risk for suicide, and help them identify serious depression or suicide
risk in a friend. We must encourage teens to tell a responsible
adult when a friend is at risk for suicide."
The data reveal that the risk of suicide was similar among white,
black, Hispanic, and Asian American youth. Regionally, youth from
the West (14 percent) were more likely to be at risk for suicide
during the past year than those who lived in the Midwest (12 percent)
or Northeast (11 percent). The risk of suicide was similar among
youth from large metropolitan, small metropolitan, and non-metropolitan
Females (16 percent) were almost twice as likely as males (8 percent)
to be at risk for suicide during the past year. The likelihood of
suicide risk was also greater among youth age 14 to 17 (13.7 percent)
than it was among those age 12 or 13 (9.4 percent).
SAMHSA's Office of Applied Studies conducts the National
Household Survey on Drug Abuse annually. The 2000 survey obtained
information from nearly 72,000 persons age 12 and older, including
more than 25,000 youth age 12 to 17.
Information about youth substance use and suicide risk is contained
in The NHSDA Report: Substance Use and the Risk of Suicide Among
Youth. For a copy of the report, contact SAMHSA's National
Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at P.O. Box 2345,
Rockville, MD 20847-2345. Telephone: 1 (800) 729-6686 (English and
Spanish) or 1 (800) 487-4889 (TDD). To view a copy, visit SAMHSA's
Web site: oas.samhsa.gov/2k2/suicide/suicide.cfm.
AlsoRelated ContentPercentages of Youth Age 12 to 17 at Risk for Suicide During the Past Year, by Past-Year Alcohol or Illicit Drug Use: 2000 »
AlsoRelated ContentPercentages of Youth Age 12 to 17 at Risk for Suicide During the Past Year, by Geographic Region: 2000 »
Back to Top