The Agony of Adolescents

Vulnerability Index

Number of adolescents, ages 10-18, in the U.S., in millions: 31

Number of suicides per 100,00 teens, ages 15-19, in 1960: 3.6

Number of suicides per 100,00 teens, ages 15-19, in 1988: 11.3

Suicide rate for African-American males, ages 15-19, in 1988, per 100,000: 10

Suicide rate for white males, ages 15-19, in 1988, per 100,000: 19

Percentage of teens who have attempted suicide at least once: 6-13

Percentage of teens who have suicidal ideation or behavior: 62.6

Percentage of teenagers who are intoxicated when they commit suicide: at least 30

Rank of suicide as cause of death among children and adolescents: third

Rank of homicide as cause of death among all children and adolescents in the U.S.: third

Rate of death by homicide among white men ages 15-24, per 100,000: 11.5

Rate of death by homicide among African-American men ages 15-24, per 100,000: 101.8

Percentage of tenth graders who reported having five or more drinks on at least one occasion during the preceding two weeks: 38

Percentage of teens who engage in heavy cigarette smoking: 12

Number of high-school seniors who report smoking marijuana every day: 1 in 25

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

Increase in pregnancy rate for girts 1-14 from 1973 to 1987: 23

"Oldthink" explanation why adolescents get into trouble: they misunderstand risk and perceive themselves as invulnerable

New fact: Perception of invulnerability is no greater for adolescents than for adults; both see teens as more vulnerable than adults

Number of teens age 11-18 who are homeless, in millions: 1.5

Number of adolescents with diagnosable mental disorder: 1 in 5

Factor most consistently identified as risk for adolescent depression: having depressed parents

Number of teens age 10- 18 without health insurance coverage: 1 in 7

"Oldthink" reason adolescence marks the beginning of a downward spiral for many individuals: intrapsychic upheaval

"Newthink" reason: failure of the social environment to provide needed close relationships with adults outside the house; inattention to actual problems by adults in mistaken belief that teens outgrow them

Source: American Psychologist (Vol. 48, No. 2)

Current Issue

Love & Lust

Who says marriage is where desire goes to die?