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Contemporary Parenting Questions


Last updated on 10/13/08

Why do some teens commit suicide?

Suicides among young people continue to be a serious problem, as thousands of teens in the U.S. commit suicide every year. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds. Most teens interviewed after making a suicide attempt say that they did it because they were trying to escape from a situation that seemed impossible to deal with or to get relief from bad thoughts or feelings. To them, it seemed like suicide was the only way out. Although most people are able to deal with their emotions appropriately, those who are suicidal are less resilient due to depression or substance abuse. One who is suicidal usually struggles with a deeper, underlying psychological problem. Once a mental health professional treats that problem, such as depression, the suicidal thoughts and actions will decrease. With suicide prevention, early intervention is the key. All parents should learn to recognize the warning signs for teen suicide and seek help for their child when necessary.

In the Jewish Community

Suicide is the eighth leading cause of death for all persons regardless of age, sex or race; the third leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 24; and the fourth leading cause of death for persons between the ages of 10 and 14. Jews, unfortunately, are not exempt from these statistics. Although it is uncommon to hear about teens who committed suicide in the Jewish community, that does not mean that it happens less often. Due to the social stigmas attached to suicide, many parents lie about their children’s suicide and claim that accidents took their lives. Jewish teens dealing with suicidal thoughts often feel alone, as it is difficult to contact people in the community with similar situations. As with everything, prevention is the easiest and most effective way to decrease the suicide rates in the Jewish community. Principals, parents, and teachers should be educated about teen suicide and its warning signs. Teens should be taught to recognize signs of suicidal thinking in their friends, and people should be taught to ignore the social stigma and reach out for help; their lives are dependent on it!

Frequently Asked Links

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Related Articles

How Can I Help a Child Cope With a Parent's Suicide?
How can relatives help a child deal with a parent's suicide?

Helping Your Child Deal With Death
It can be difficult to know how to help kids cope with a death, particularly as you work through your own grief. Here are a few important things to consider.

Understanding Depression
In the United States, depression is the most common mental health disorder. If you think your child is depressed, you will want to learn more about what depression is, what causes it, and what you can do to help.


By Rabbi Yakov Horowitz


Mental Health Resources for the Jewish Community

Compiled by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI)
NAMI offers resources and help for those with a mental illness.

Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE)
SAVE offers information on suicide prevention. Call: (800) SUICIDE

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
This group is dedicated to advancing the knowledge of suicide and the ability to prevent it.

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP)
AACAP offers up-to-date information on child and adolescent development and issues.

American Psychological Association (APA)
The APA provides information and education about a variety of mental health issues for people of all ages.

This website from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides suicide hotlines, resources, and information for people who are thinking about suicide or are concerned about someone they know.

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