One in five teens in Canada seriously considers suicide: study

A report released Sept. 8, 2016 by Kids Help Phone – Teens Talk 2016 – has revealed that one in five teens in Canada has seriously considered suicide in the last 12 months, and discovered correlations between teens’ suicidal thoughts and specific behaviours or experiences.

The Teens Talk 2016 report is based on the results of a national survey of 1,319 teens aged 13 – 18 –statistically representative of age and gender across each province – and explores the issues teens face, such as suicide, body or self-image, relationship issues and bullying.

“We’re concerned with how common suicidal thoughts are among teens in Canada, but while our report shows that suicidal thoughts are common in teens, suicide does not have to be,” said Alisa Simon, Vice-President Counselling Services and Programs.

“It is absolutely crucial that we work together as a country, within our communities and in our classrooms, to create an open dialogue around suicide and suicidal thoughts, and that we foster understanding and build supports for young people that are there when they need them the most.”

The report showed that a primary indicator of whether a teen is experiencing an issue was that they had searched the web or social media about it.

“More than half of teens who had considered suicide had also searched the web or social media for related information, and importantly, almost half of teens who had considered suicide did not speak to anyone about it,” said Simon.

“It’s when we aren’t aware that a problem exists that we face the greatest barriers to helping a young person address their suicidal thoughts.

“This report’s findings present us with a golden opportunity to work better to meet kids where they are at in their digital world, and provide the supports they need in this space for when they don’t reach out in person.”

The report also explored correlations between suicidal thoughts and specific behaviours or experiences, finding that teens experiencing suicidal thoughts are often simultaneously experiencing other challenges.

“Teens do not experience issues in isolation. The issues they are experiencing, and the behaviours that occur as a result, all interact, connect and overlap,” said Simon.

“Teens who experienced suicidal thoughts were often also experiencing violence at home or school, body or self-image concerns or addictions to drugs and alcohol.”

Teens who have seriously considered attempting suicide in the last 12 months:

  • Represented one in five teens (22%) surveyed
  • Did not speak to anyone about suicide (47%)
  • Said they had formulated a plan (46%)
  • Were twice as likely to be girls as boys
  • Were much more likely than teens who did not consider attempting suicide to have reported body or self-image concerns, violence at home or school or drug or alcohol addictions.
  • To view the full report, please visit
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