Risks of Youth Suicide

Why does youth suicide happen? A southeast Michigan expert offers insight.


It’s a question that plagues parents of children who die of suicide — the second leading cause of death among kids ages 10-14 and the third leading cause of death among those 15-24, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

While every person’s situation is unique, there are some common themes when it comes to youth suicide, Chelsea Zuteck, a licensed clinical social worker at Horizon Counseling Center, tells Metro Parent in its January/February 2023 article “Why Youth Suicide Happens,” which is part of a special 2023 content series sponsored by the Flinn Foundation.

“As a broad statement, I would say that sometimes teenagers have trouble with coping with stressors that may be associated with being a teen such as dealing with rejection, failure, breakups, school difficulties, things like that,” she says.

Because the brain’s frontal lobe, which is its impulse control center, doesn’t develop until the mid-20s, brain development can play a role in youth suicide, as well. Other factors that increase the risk of youth include substance abuse, trauma, bullying and lack of access to mental health care, among others.

Zuteck advises parents to keep an eye out for any changes in their child’s behavior. If he or she is withdrawing, giving away belongings or making statements like, “I wish I wasn’t here anymore,” or, “The world would be better off without me,” he or she could be contemplating suicide.

Don’t ignore the signs, Zuteck suggests. Talk, talk and talk some more. Begin a conversation with your child about mental health and suicide. Share your own experiences (perhaps you’ve seen a therapist in the past or have struggled with your own mental health issues) and consider having your child work with a therapist.

“I think it’s good to have someone unbiased who is there to listen to you, hear your perspective,” she says.

For even more insight and advice on how to help your child who may be struggling with thoughts of suicide, read the full article at MetroParent.com.