Adulthood: What's the Rush?

The truth about 21st century 20-somethings.

Suicide higher among young adults

Young men have one of the highest suicide rates

As bullying and suicide take center stage, it is worth noting that young men ages 20-24 have the second-highest rate for suicide. (The highest risk is older men over age 65.). 

According to the National Institutes of Health, in 2007, suicide was the third leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. The following are rates of suicide by age group:

  • Children ages 10 to 14 - 0.9 per 100,000
  • Adolescents ages 15 to 19 - 6.9 per 100,000
  • Young adults ages 20 to 24 - 12.7 per 100,000

Across all age groups, the rate is 11.3.

Among those young adults, men are more likely than women to attempt, and succeed in suicide. Just under six times as many males as females ages 20 to 24 died by suicide, according to NIH.

As fellow Psychology Today blogger Deborah King suggests, one reason for these higher rates may be the fact that "big boys don't cry." They are taught to bottle up their emotions and "be a man." 

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"Fear, sadness, disappointment, regret...what is a boy taught to do with his emotions? Is he allowed to cry...Can a 20-year-old say, 'I'm depressed and I really need help' before he turns to thoughts of suicide?"

Another, often undetected, cause of suicide is abuse that starts much earlier in life, as a child. Pychology Today blogger Jennifer Tanner shares the heart-breaking, and appalling, story of one young man, who succumbed to suicide at age 27. His suicide note began: My first memories as a child are of being raped, repeatedly.

It goes without saying that much, much more must be done for these young people, before they succumb to the despair. 



Barbara Ray is the coauthor of Not Quite Adults: Why 20-Somethings Are Choosing a Slower Path to Adulthood and Why It's Good for All of Us (Delacorte, Jan. 2011).


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