The Jed Foundation Releases Comprehensive Report on the State of Youth Mental Health and a Roadmap to Reducing Suicide

An expert panel analyzed data on youth mental health and suicide to identify factors influencing this generation and specific groups of youth, and provided recommendations on how to protect them and save lives.

December 6, 2023, NEW YORK CITY — The Jed Foundation (JED), the leading nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults, today issued Youth Suicide: Current Trends and the Path to Prevention, a comprehensive report that provides actionable insights into the mental health challenges of young people and evidence-based recommendations for lowering youth suicide rates. In the report, JED describes the challenges youth face, the factors that have contributed to suicide becoming the second-leading cause of death among youth ages 12 to 24, and outlines a detailed approach to  effectively reducing suicide risk for all teens and young adults. 

As a leader in creating and implementing suicide-prevention programs for teens and young adults for nearly 25 years, JED continually analyzes the latest data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and other sources. Through collaboration with mental health researchers and clinicians, the report provides an overview of the prevailing risks and contributing factors that impact the mental wellness of young people and contribute to suicidal thoughts and attempts. 

“Suicide rates for young people have been rising for over a decade due to factors that include isolation, increasing access to firearms, and difficulty connecting to mental health treatment, and particular groups of youth are disproportionately impacted because of the effects of social determinants of health,” said Dr. Laura Erickson-Schroth, JED’s Chief Medical Officer. “Our first-of-its-kind report aims to provide a nuanced perspective on how these influences are driving suicidal thoughts, suicide attempts, and deaths among different groups of youth and identifies strategies that can help parents, educators, public officials, and policymakers mitigate these trends to improve young people’s mental health and save lives.”   

Key highlights from the report include: 

  • 10% of high school students attempted suicide in the past year. 
  • Black youth (ages 10 to 24) experienced the fastest increase in suicide rates between 2010 and 2020, with the rate almost doubling (a 90% increase).
  • American Indian/Alaska Native teens and young adults have the highest suicide rate across all racial groups — almost twice as high as the overall national average.
  • LGBTQIA+ youth are at higher risk for suicidal thoughts and attempts than cisgender heterosexual youth. 
  • Young women’s (ages 15 to 24) suicide rates are increasing faster than young men’s, doubling in the past two decades. 
  • Rural youth are almost twice as likely to die by suicide than those who live in large urban areas. 
  • Youth (ages 10 to 24) involved with the criminal legal system die by suicide at rates two to three times higher than the general youth population.  
  • Firearms are the leading method of suicide death overall, and approximately 90% of attempts are fatal. 

As part of the report, JED outlined 9 Essential Steps to Reducing Youth Suicide to ensure that, with an understanding of what is behind the data, we can support diverse groups of young people with proven solutions and change outcomes in a meaningful way. A sample of those steps includes using a comprehensive, strategic approach; increasing community and connection for young people; meaningfully increasing access to care; making widespread use of proven treatments and approaches; and reducing access to lethal means. 

“Over the past few years, young people have been significantly impacted by society’s greatest challenges, including the pandemic, war, climate change, racial disparities, and school shootings. They do this without the context, experience, and resilience that adults possess,” said John MacPhee, JED’s Chief Executive Officer. “We have an opportunity to actively protect teens and young adults by compassionately providing them with the skills and care they need to succeed, while also working to reduce the barriers and risk factors in our society. We firmly believe that by putting into practice the recommendations outlined in this report, we can work together to create a supportive environment that fosters resilience and connection, reduces risks, and decreases the number of young people who take their lives.”  

Youth Suicide: Current Trends and the Path to Prevention can be downloaded.

A Special Thanks 

An expert panel contributed their thoughts and insights from the field to inform this report and frame its issues and recommendations. The panel included: 

  • Asha Alexander, LCSW, Assistant Director of Counseling and Case Management, Hetrick-Martin Institute for LGBTQIA+ Youth
  • Catherine Barber, MPA, Senior Researcher, Harvard Injury Control Research Center, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
  • Lauren Carson, MA, Founder and Executive Director, Black Girls Smile
  • Christina Guilbeau, MBA, Founder, Hopebound
  • Kimberly Hieftje, PhD, Assistant Professor, Co-Director, and Co-Founder, Yale Center for Immersive Technologies in Pediatrics
  • Sophia Kizilbash, MSc, CPC, Sophia Kizilbash Coaching and Consulting
  • Aurora Martinez, THRIVE Suicide Prevention Project, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board
  • Angel Mills, LPC-MH, NCC, Wahuta Consulting
  • Christine Yu Moutier, MD, Chief Medical Officer, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP)
  • Myeshia Price, PhD, Associate Professor, Indiana University Department of Counseling and Education Psychology, former Director of Research Science, The Trevor Project
  • Whitney Robertson, MA, LCMHC, Executive Board, Hopebound
  • Michelle Singer, Healthy Native Youth Project, Northwest Portland Area Indian Health Board
  • Sarah Spafford, PhD, MSuicidology, Research Associate, Center on Human Development, University of Oregon
  • Altha J. Stewart, MD, Director, Center for Youth Advocacy and Well-Being, The University of Tennessee Health Science Center

About The Jed Foundation (JED)
JED is a nonprofit that protects emotional health and prevents suicide for our nation’s teens and young adults. We’re partnering with high schools and colleges to strengthen their mental health, substance misuse, and suicide prevention programs and systems. We’re equipping teens and young adults with the skills and knowledge to help themselves and each other. We’re encouraging community awareness, understanding, and action for young adult mental health.
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Media Contact
Justin Barbo
Director of Public Relations, The Jed Foundation

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