SAMHSA News Release

SAMHSA Press Releases

Date: July 14, 2002
Contact:  SAMHSA Media
Phone: 301-443-8956



SAMHSA Unveils Data on Youths Contemplating Suicide


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) today released new data from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse showing that there were approximately 3 million youths aged 12 to 17 who thought seriously about suicide or attempted suicide in 2000. This data, collected for the first time in the 2000 survey, was released by Administrator Charles G. Curie.

Speaking at the Suicide Prevention Advocacy Network (SPANUSA) meeting in Arlington, VA, Mr. Curie said that the 2000 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse asked youths about thoughts of suicide and their use of alcohol and illicit drugs. The data show that 13.7 percent of youths aged 14-17 considered suicide in the past year. Only 36 percent of those at risk children received mental health treatment or counseling. The data also reveal that youth who used alcohol or illicit drugs in the past year were more likely than youths who did not use illegal substances to consider taking their own lives.

Saying, "Even one death by suicide is one death too many," Mr. Curie explained that "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." He 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."

Of the almost 3 million youth aged 12-17 who thought about suicide or attempted it during the past year, over one third, 37 percent, actually tried to kill themselves. Females (16 percent) were more likely than males (8 percent) to report contemplating suicide during the past year. The risk was higher among youth aged 14-17 than among those 12 or 13. The likelihood of suicide risk was similar among white, black, Hispanic and Asian youth. The risk of suicide among youth was similar whether they lived in large metropolitan areas, small metropolitan areas or non-metropolitan counties. The highest rate was in the West where 13.5 percent of children aged 12 to 17 had thoughts of or attempted suicide.

About a quarter of youths who used illicit drugs in the past year thought about or tried to kill themselves.


The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a public health agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is the lead federal agency for improving the quality and availability of substance abuse prevention, addiction treatment and mental health services in the United States. Information on SAMHSA's programs is available on the Internet at

News media requests should be directed to Media Services at 301-443-8956.




This page was last updated on 15 July, 2002
SAMHSA is An Agency of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services