Colorado is a community that has been shaken by teen suicides over the past several years. In 2017, the Centers for Disease Control ranked Colorado 11th in the nation for most teen suicides, and in 2018, Kaiser found Colorado ranked 9th out of 50 states. While Colorado does not rank in the top 5 of states with the highest number of teen suicides, several Western states are on this list (including our neighbors, Wyoming and Utah).
In the United States, suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth aged 10 to 19. Historically, boys have completed suicide at higher rates than girls, though that gap seems to be narrowing. From 1975 to 2016, youth suicide rates saw a decrease in the early 1990s and have shown an increase since 2007. When comparing genders, suicide in girls increased at a higher rate than in boys, particularly among girls aged 10 to 14. Girls have traditionally been thought to have a higher amount of suicidal thinking or behavior (such as self-injury) than boys, but they now appear to act on it at similar rates as boys.
Many factors have been hypothesized for increased depression and suicidal behavior in youth, including increased exposure to social media, online or school bullying, increased pressure on appearance and school performance, and family hardships. Warning signs for suicide include making suicidal comments; being unhappy or depressed for extended periods of time; withdrawing from friends or activities, significant changes in behavior, personality, or habits; giving away prized possessions; and being increasingly irritated. It is crucial that parents remain aware of any potential signs of suicidal thinking and contact a mental health professional. For active threats of suicide and serious self-harming behaviors, teens may need a higher level of care, including assessment in the emergency room.