Young Adult Mental Health & Substance Abuse Treatment Centers

Preventing Suicide Among Young Adults: Statistics and Strategies

Reading Time: 6 minutes

Young adults are struggling with their mental health at historically high rates. A new survey found that more than a third of young adults say they had moments in the past year where they contemplated suicide.

Furthermore, the suicide rate for ages 10 to 24 years old increased by 57.4 percent in the US over the past decade, according to CDC data. Yet only about 4 in 10 adults who attempt suicide receive mental healthcare.

These mental health and suicide statistics underline the vital importance of Suicide Prevention Awareness Month 2023 in September, which includes World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10 and Suicide Prevention Week, September 10–16. During this month, mental health organizations, companies, and individual providers work together for suicide prevention. Newport is partnering for the seventh year in a row with the suicide prevention nonprofit To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA).

Key Takeaways

  • Young adults experience mental health challenges at higher rates than any other age group, resulting in a higher suicide risk. 
  • Events during September seek to raise awareness and funds to help prevent suicide.
  • If a young adult is at risk of suicide, it’s vital that they receive care immediately, at an ER or from whatever provider is available.
  • When the immediate crisis is averted, the next step is finding the right treatment to address the underlying mental health issues.


All calls are always confidential.

New Research on Suicide and Depression in Young Adults

  • The new CVS survey found that 36 percent of young adults aged 18–34 had considered suicide. But less than half or survey respondents were aware of resources that offer support and information on suicide prevention.
  • A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that the suicide rate for ages 20–24 has reached its highest point since 2000, rising 57.4 percent over the last decade.
  • Correspondingly, research shows a 71 percent increase in serious psychological distress among young adults over the past 20 years.
  • A new Inside Higher Ed study found that 44 percent of young adults reported symptoms of depression, 37 percent reported anxiety, and 15 percent have seriously considered suicide. These are the highest rates in the survey’s 15-year history.
  • Data from Mental Health America (MHA) shows that the national rate of adults experiencing suicidal ideation has increased every year since 2011.

Furthermore, for specific ethnic and cultural groups, rates of suicide are even higher. For American Indian and Alaska Native youth, the rate of suicide is 2.5 times higher than that of their peers. Asian American and LGBTQ young adults also have disproportionately high rates of depression and suicide.

Researchers theorize that a variety of factors are contributing to this dramatic rise in young adult suicide. These include social media overuse, cyberbullying, poor sleep habits, concerns about the future of the country and the planet, and a decline in the amount of time this age group spends face-to-face with friends.

Is someone you know struggling? You might ask them …

  1. What kinds of things do you obsess over?
  2. How do you feel about the future?
  3. Have you ever thought about suicide?
  4. How can we support each other better?
  5. Will you tell me how you’re really doing?

TWLOHA and Newport Partner to Help Prevent Suicide Among Young Adults

To help support young people around the country, Newport is partnering for the seventh year in a row with To Write Love On Her Arms (TWLOHA). TWLOHA is a nonprofit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury, and suicide.

The TWLOHA mission statement includes the commitment “to encourage, inform, inspire, and invest directly into treatment and recovery.” Newport’s partnership with TWLOHA aims to rally supporters across the country and the globe to take action to reverse the rising rate of suicide among young adults and teens.

TWLOHA’s 2023 campaign theme is “The World Is Not Better Without You.” The organization raises funding to educate communities, provide hope and encouragement, and connect people to the help they deserve.

We are grateful for all that TWLOHA does to raise awareness, promote prevention, and erase the stigma of suicide. Remaining idle is not an option when so many are struggling with thoughts of self-harm and hopelessness amplified by the pandemic. Newport is proud to play a part in helping people access much-needed treatment so that they can see the importance of living another day.

Joe Procopio
CEO, Newport Healthcare

10 Risk Factors for Suicide Among Young Adults

A specific set of factors can contribute to the risk of young adult suicide. Risk factors do not cause suicide, but they contribute to a person’s likelihood of making a suicide attempt.

It’s not only depression and suicide that are linked. Anxiety and suicide are also closely related, as anxiety disorders can cause intense distress and hopelessness, leading to suicidal ideation and attempts. In addition, specific events and circumstances can increase the risk of suicide in young adults.

The top reasons for suicide among young adults include the following:

  1. Depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders
  2. A history of substance abuse
  3. Exposure to violence, abuse, or other trauma, either chronic or acute
  4. Social isolation and loneliness
  5. Losing a family member through death or divorce
  6. Financial or job loss
  7. Conflict within relationships
  8. Starting or changing psychotropic medications
  9. Feeling stigmatized
  10. Lack of a support system.

Suicide Warning Signs and How to Take Action

With so many young adults struggling with their mental health, family members and loved ones need to be particularly vigilant. Here are some of the warning signs of depression and suicidal ideation.

  • Talking or posting on social media about suicide or wanting to die
  • Sharing that they are feeling a sense of hopelessness or being trapped
  • Increasing use of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Losing or gaining weight; changes in eating habits
  • Extreme changes in sleep habits; insomnia or sleeping too much
  • Gathering drugs, sharp objects, firearms, or other items that could be used to commit suicide or self-harm
  • Withdrawing from friends and family members
  • Doing online searches for methods of committing suicide
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye, and giving away possessions they care about
  • Trouble concentrating at work and/or a drop in academic performance
  • Unexplained physical issues such as headaches and stomachaches
  • Risk-taking or self-destructive behavior
  • Suddenly becoming calm or cheerful after a long period of being depressed and sad.

If you see any of these signs, take the following actions:

  1. Do not leave the person alone.
  2. Remove anything that could be used in a suicide attempt, including firearms, alcohol, drugs, razors, or other sharp objects.
  3. Call the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
  4. Take the person to an emergency room or seek help from a medical or mental health professional.

Source: American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

In addition, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline runs a network of suicide hotline crisis centers. Moreover, they provide information about taking suicide precautions.

Suicide Prevention in Young Adults: Accessing Effective Mental Health Treatment

If a young person is at risk of suicide, it’s vital that they receive care immediately, at an ER or from whatever provider is available. When the immediate crisis is averted, the next step in finding the right treatment for suicidal young adults is a comprehensive assessment to uncover the underlying mental health issue. That might be anxiety, depression, trauma, or another disorder.

Once a diagnosis is determined, a mental health professional can support a young adult and their family in identifying the right level of care. Treatment options for depression and suicide risk include weekly therapy, outpatient treatment, and residential care. The severity of the diagnosis will inform what type of treatment a young adult needs in order to achieve long-term healing.

Treatment for Suicide and Depression and Anxiety at Newport Institute

At Newport Institute, our treatment for suicidal young adults goes beyond the immediate crisis situation. We support young people to heal the root causes of suicidal ideation and to build resilience and healthy coping skills. Hence, a treatment plan for suicidal ideation addresses the whole person and their

Our integrated approach to care includes the following evidence-based modalities:

  • Family therapy to help young adults heal childhood trauma and/or family ruptures while establishing autonomy and making connections outside the family
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to identify self-defeating thoughts and assumptions that make life more difficult
  • Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), which provides specific skills like mindfulness and emotional regulation, which can be used right away and become stronger with practice.
  • Motivational Enhancement Therapy (MET) to support transformation and healing by resolving any initial resistance young adults may have to treatment
  • Creative arts therapy, such as art therapy and music therapy, give young adults ways to process their emotions through self-expression
  • Adventure therapy, supporting young adults to build trust, mastery, and collaboration skills
  • Yoga and mindfulness to promote self-awareness and help bring young adults into the present moment
  • Positive coping skills, such as using the breath and reframing negative thinking.

In summary, understanding the causes, warning signs, and risk factors for suicide among young adults can help prevent tragic loss of life. With the support of loved ones and with access to the mental healthcare they need, emerging adults can look forward to a hopeful future.

Contact us today to find out about our specialized treatment for young adult depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts.


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Mental Health / August 28, 2023