Section 3, Article 2 - Adolescence and identity formation may be a confusing and stressful time for many individuals, resulting in psychological problems like depression and suicide. Some contributing factors include adolescents’ ever-changing emotions and the onset of life events that trigger grief and sadness. In general, adolescents struggle with self-esteem and self-confidence, which are impacted by gender, ethnicity, and race (). Major depression is rare among youth (3%) and is usually connected to some combination of biological, social, and environmental causes. Though there are many theories as to why girls experience depression at higher rates than boys, there is still no clear consensus ().
When the hopelessness of depression is extensive, teens may contemplate suicide. In the United States, suicide is the third highest cause of death for adolescents between the ages of 15 and 24, with males having the highest rate. It is estimated that for every suicide, there have been as many as 200 . In the United States, girls are more likely to attempt suicide, but boys are nearly four times more likely to kill themselves (). It is unclear as to why suicides have risen in adolescents, but the risk factors are numerous, including the following: depression, social stress and anxiety, the availability of weapons, family and school conflict, neglect, and drug abuse (; ; ; ; ). Another risk factor are , and many schools have created counseling and intervention programs in an attempt to manage and prevent such situations.
Suicide Attempters in the Emergency Department Before Hospitalization in a Psychiatric Ward (PDF) by Perspectives in Psychiatric Care | March 4, 2010
While many adolescents at risk for suicide internalize their emotions, those who externalize their emotions may do so through delinquent behaviors. Adolescence is when criminal acts are most prevalent, but one should consider that breaking a local curfew or buying cigarettes are criminal offenses for adolescents under the age of 18. Likewise, the brain has not yet fully matured, and as many as 1/5th of adolescent crimes are false confessions in a desire to please others (). The majority of teens who commit crimes are who will outgrow their behaviors if they remain in school and avoid imprisonment and drug addictions (). Sometimes, teens are and continue engaging in criminal activity throughout their life; such individuals often struggle with neurological impairments (). While delinquency cannot be ignored, options for discipline that avoids jail should be considered, because imprisonment has been found to increase the chance that such activity will persist lifelong ().
Another particularly dangerous risk to teenagers is drug use. Younger teens are often unable to understand the risks of drug use, and such individuals are more prone to use inhalants, which can cause brain damage and death. The prevalence of drug use increases between the ages of 10 and 25, with use before age 18 being a strong predictor of later drug misuse. Across cultures, the attitudes towards and prevalence of alcohol and drug abuse vary greatly. For instance, teenagers in Europe commonly drink alcohol at meals with their families, whereas in countries like Iran and Libya alcohol is illegal.