The Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation has compiled relevant and informative resources to help you, a family member or a friend learn more about depression and suicide. Teenage suicide is a Canadian epidemic that we need to take seriously, please take the time to read more and save a life!

  • Call 1-800-SUICIDE, the 24/7 Crisis Centre Distress Line to speak to a trained professional
  • Tell a friend, family member, counselor or mental health professional now!
  • Visit or for more information or to CHAT with a trained professional on depression and suicide

The Facts:

  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens in Canada and third leading cause of death in the US.
  • Suicide and attempted suicide has increased 300% in the last 30 years
  • Teen/Youth suicide rates have tripled since 1970
  • Nine out of ten suicides take place in the home.
  • For every completed suicide there are an estimated 30 to 50 attempts.
  • 70% of suicides occur between the hours of 3 p.m. to midnight (when they could be saved).
  • Males complete suicide 4 times more often than females.
  • Females account for 75% of the attempted suicides (mainly with drug overdoses).
  • Approximately one-third of teens who die by suicide have made a previous suicide attempt.
  • Males use more violent means, e.g. guns, hanging.
  • Only 33 to 50 % were identified by their doctors as having a mental illness at the time of their death and only 15 percent of suicide victims were in treatment at the time of their death.
  • Spring and fall are the months of highest risk.
  • An estimated 80% of all those who commit suicide give some warning of their intentions or mention their feelings to a friend or family member.
  • For every two homicides in the U.S. there are three suicides.
  • Having a firearm in the home greatly increases the risk of youth suicide. Sixty-four percent of suicide victims 10-24 years old use a firearm to complete the act.
  • Due to the stigma associated with suicide, available statistics may well underestimate the problem.

The Signs:

There are several behavioral indicators that can help parents or friends recognize the threat of suicide in a loved one. Since mental and substance-related disorders frequently accompany suicidal behavior, many of the cues to be looked for are symptoms associated with such disorders as depression, bipolar disorder (manic depression), anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use, disruptive behavior disorders, and schizophrenia.

Some common symptoms of these disorders include:

  • Extreme personality changes
  • Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
  • Significant loss or gain in appetite
  • Difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep or wanting to sleep all day
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
  • Withdrawal from family and friends
  • Neglect of personal appearance or hygiene
  • Sadness, irritability, or indifference
  • Having trouble concentrating
  • Extreme anxiety or panic
  • Drug or alcohol use or abuse
  • Aggressive, destructive, or defiant behavior
  • Poor school performance
  • Hallucinations or unusual beliefs

Tragically, many of these signs go unrecognized. While suffering from one of these symptoms certainly does not imply that one is suicidal, it's always best to communicate openly with a loved one who is demonstrating more of these behaviors; especially if these behavior are out of character. Here are some obvious signs to look for is someone you love is contemplating suicide.

  • Putting one's affairs in order
  • Giving or throwing away favorite belongings
  • Talk of death or suicide should be taken seriously and paid close attention to

The Cause:

While the reasons that teens commit suicide vary widely, there are some common situations and circumstances that seem to lead to such extreme measures.

  • Major disappointment
  • Rejection
  • Failure
  • A loss such as breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend
  • Failing a big exam
  • Witnessing family turmoil.

Since the overwhelming majority of those who commit suicide have a mental or substance-related disorder, they often have difficulty coping with crippling stressors. They are unable to see that their life can turn around, and unable to recognize that suicide is not a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Usually, the common reasons for suicide listed above are actually not the "causes" of the suicide, but rather triggers for suicide in a person suffering from a mental illness or substance-related disorder.

More recently, scientists have focused on the biology of suicide. Suicide is thought by some to have a genetic component. Research has show strong evidence that mental and substance-related disorders, which commonly affect those who end up committing suicide, do run in families. While the suicide of a relative is not a direct cause of suicide in another family member, it does, put certain individuals at more risk than others.

Research has also explored the specific brain chemistry of those who take their own lives. Recent studies indicate that those who have attempted suicide may also have low levels of the brain chemical serotonin. Serotonin helps control impulsivity, and low levels of the brain chemical are thought to cause more impulsive behavior. Suicides are often committed out of impulse. Antidepressant drugs affecting serotonin are used to treat depression, impulsivity, and suicidal thoughts. However, much more research is needed to confirm these hypotheses and, hopefully, lead to more definite indicators of treatment for those prone to suicide.

How to Help:

People contemplating suicide feel so alone and helpless. The most important thing to do if you think a friend or loved one is suicidal is to communicate with them openly and frequently. Make it clear that you care and stress your willingness to listen. Be sure to take all talk of suicide seriously. Don't assume that people who talk about killing themselves will not follow through. An estimated 80 percent of all those who commit suicide give some warning of their intentions to a friend or family member.

One of the most common misconceptions is that talking with someone who might be contemplating suicide may make the situation worse. This is not true. There is no danger of "giving someone the idea." Rather, the opposite is correct. Bringing up the question of suicide and discussing it without showing shock or disapproval is one of the most helpful things you can do. This openness shows that you are taking the individual seriously and responding to the severity of their distress.

Never assume that those contemplating suicide are unwilling to seek help. Studies of suicide victims show that more than half had sought medical help within six months before their deaths. It is also important that you don't leave the suicidal person to find help alone. Never assume that someone who is determined to end his or her life can't be stopped. Even the most severely depressed person has mixed feelings about death, wavering until the very last moment between wanting to live and wanting to die. Most suicidal people do not want death they just want the pain to stop. The impulse to end it all, though, no matter how overpowering, does not last forever. The majority of young people who hear a suicide threat from a friend or loved one don't report the threat to an adult. Take all threats seriously and remember you are not betraying someone's trust by trying to keep them alive.

If you know of a friend or loved one who is contemplating suicide, it is essential to help him or her find immediate professional care. Call the NAMI HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI [6264] for more information and to help you locate your local NAMI for area assistance. If you think the threat is immediate, call 911.

Important Consideration

Do not assume that someone who was considering suicide, now in treatment, and is telling you that he or she is feeling better is, in fact, doing better. Some who commit suicide actually do so as they appear to be improving. While it's not healthy to monitor every action of someone who is recovering from suicidal thoughts, it is important to make certain that the lines of communication between you and the individual remain open.