Bulletin Reports

Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among Detained Youth

The U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention presents Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors Among Detained Youth. According to 2010 statistics released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2013, at a rate of 10.5 per 100,000 adolescents, suicide is the third-leading cause of death in youth between 15 and 24 years old. Data suggested that incarcerated youth are at risk for suicide at a rate two to four times higher than youth in the general popula­tion.   

This bulletin examines suicidal thoughts and behaviors among 1,829 youth ages 10 to 18 in the Northwestern Juvenile Project—a longitudinal study of youth detained at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center in Chicago, Illinois. Many findings prove significant.

  • Approximately 10.3 percent (1 in 10) juvenile detainees thought about suicide in the past 6 months, and 11 percent attempted suicide.
  • More than 33 percent of male juvenile detainees and nearly 50 percent of female juvenile detainees indicated that they felt hopeless or thought about dying in the 6 months prior to their detention.
  • Recent suicide attempts were most prevalent in female detainees and youth with anxiety disorders.
  • Fewer than 50 percent of detainees with recent thoughts of suicide told anyone about these thoughts.

This July 2014 document, NCJ 243891, can be accessed at http://ojjdp.gov/pubs/243891.pdf.