Self Harm and Suicide Prevention

Self Harm

Definition: Suicide is defined as death from injury, poisoning, or suffocation where there is evidence that a self-inflicted act led to the person's death. It is important to recognize the warning signs of suicide, which include talking about harming or killing oneself. Knowing the risk factors and responding appropriately to warning signs can be effective at preventing youth suicide.

Magnitude of the Problem

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for youth between the ages of 10 and 24 and results in the loss of an average of 5,183 lives each year (CDC WISQARS). According to the 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey report:

  • 17.7% of students, grade 9-12, reported that they had seriously considered suicide in the previous 12 months.
  • 8.6% of students reported making at least one suicide attempt in the previous 12 months.
  • 2.8% of students reported making at least one suicide attempt in the previous 12 months that required medical attention.


Strategies for preventing youth suicides may include:

  • enhancing protective factors,
  • reducing risk factors,
  • strengthening norms that support help-seeking behaviors,
  • implementing screening and prevention activities for high-risk groups, and
  • primary prevention of conditions such as depression, impulsive behavior, and drug or alcohol abuse.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System (WISQARS) [online], Fatal Injury Reports, 2010-2015.   

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