What causes teenage suicide

Youth suicide: these are the red flags

It is the nightmare of all parents - but unfortunately the current suicide case of three young women in Lower Saxony is not an isolated incident. Statistically speaking, at least one adolescent or young adult takes their own life in Germany every day. According to the latest data from the Federal Statistical Office, there were a total of 587 suicides among people under the age of 26 in 2009. These included 456 young men and 131 young women.

Most often, young adults between the ages of 20 and 25 choose to commit suicide (372). The second large group are teenagers aged 15 to 19 (194). But suicide also occurs in younger people - albeit rarely (21).

In 2009, the Federal Office registered a total of 9,616 suicides in Germany. The total number has been decreasing for years. The suicide rates of adolescents and young adults, on the other hand, have remained relatively constant for years - including the proportions of the sexes: around three times more boys than girls commit suicide. Experts see the cause in the fact that boys choose tougher methods. Thoughts of suicide, on the other hand, are more common among girls. There are no statistics on the number of suicide attempts.

Why adolescents commit suicide

But why are young people in particular often at risk of suicide? "Adolescence is the time of crisis," explains Michael Witte from the German Society for Suicide Prevention (DGS). "There is the separation from the parents, school stress, new relationships, new conflicts, there are difficult decisions to be made - and there are always doubts." Many teenagers slip into a crisis of meaning.

"With young people it is also a feeling of failure and abandonment: I am different, I do not belong, I am not worth anything, I can do nothing. It is an inner devaluation and at the same time insufficiently developed self-confidence. The ability is still lacking to take charge of their own problems, "said Witte.

"The pressure has increased"

Professor Gerd Lehmkuhl, director of child and adolescent psychiatry at Cologne University Hospital, also sees adolescents in puberty - which begins ever earlier - in a very vulnerable phase in which they can be particularly susceptible to thoughts of suicide. At the same time, he observes a social failure: "The pressure from outside has increased. The families and the parents are no longer so good at taking care of their children. The social support has decreased and the demands are increasing, also in school."

Early warning system necessary: ‚Äč‚ÄčThese are warning signals

The number of suicides and suicide attempts is alarming and, according to Lehmkuhl, shows: "We have to establish an early warning system. Everyone who deals with young people must look and be made aware of early signs. The children and young people torture themselves. They can be relieved of their special threat get them out, help them. But if the problem is not taken seriously enough, it can be fatal - and fatal. "

These are warning signs that parents should pay particular attention to:

  • Changed eating habits with loss of appetite, binge eating or irregularities
  • Use of alcohol or other drugs
  • Violence, rebellious behavior, running away, wandering around
  • Unusual neglect of clothing
  • Persistent boredom, difficulty concentrating and / or decline in school performance
  • Withdrawal from family, friends, sports club, youth group
  • Disinterest in common activities
  • Defense against praise and recognition
  • Refusal of gifts
  • Giving away loved items or pets
  • Complaints of psychosomatic complaints such as headache, stomach pain, nausea, fatigue
  • Sudden happiness after a period of depression