February 26, 2020

Teenage Suicide, Mental Health, and Substance Abuse

Substance abuse and mental illness are closely connected. Each causes, is caused by, worsens, and is worsened by the other. One of the most serious dangers associated with addictive disorders is a greater risk of suicide. Among teenagers and young adults, ages 15 through 24, suicides are the 3rd-leading cause of death.

Alarming Statistics about Suicide in America

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports that annually, over 39,000 Americans kill themselves. Consequently, 108 intentional self-inflicted deaths occur every day. Worse, for every completed act, there are 25 attempts.

In fact, it is the 10th-leading cause of death in the US, per the Centers for Disease Control.

An estimated 90% of victims suffer from at least one mental health condition such as:

“…I think that probably few appreciate the magnitude of the relationship between substance abuse and suicide.”

~Dr. Richard McKeon, PhD, MPH, Public Health Advisor for Suicide Prevention at SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services

How Suicides and Substance Abuse are Linked

Mental illness is the biggest cause of suicide. However, substance abuse is the SECOND-biggest.

Of special relevance, an individual with a mental disorder is twice as likely to misuse drugs or alcohol. Likewise, the likelihood of mental illness doubles in substance abusers.

According to Substance Abuse Disorders and Suicide, by Dr. Jennifer Olsen-Madden, PhD, of the Psychiatry Department at the University of Denver’s School of Medicine:

Why Does Substance Abuse Increase the Risk of Suicide?

There are several theories:

How Can the Risk of Substance Abuse-Related Suicides Be Reduced?

FIRST, if your teenager abuses any substance – alcohol, marijuana, inhalants, prescription medications, or illicit drugs DO WHATEVER IT TAKES to get them into treatment. And if you don’t know what to do, hire a state-licensed professional interventionist.

Because addiction is incurable and progressive – it only worsens as time goes by– some call it “a type of chronic suicide”.

SECOND, watch for the  warning signs of suicide.  Experts say that 80% of suicides demonstrated clear warnings prior to the act. If your child makes any statements or exhibits behaviors indicating that they might harm themselves, it is a psychiatric emergency. It is critical that you involve a trained and experienced mental health professional who specializes in the treatment of teens.

Teensavers Treatment Centers – the #1 addiction recovery program in Orange County – focuses on treating teen addictive disorders and mental health struggles. In a safe, therapeutic environment, teenage substance abusers regain their balance in life.

If you have a child who needs help for their alcohol or drug use, call today to get the support you need.

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