Suicide is the third leading cause of death in youth ages 15 to 24. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined (U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Svcs., 2001).
- More than 90% of children & adolescents who commit suicide have a mental disorder (Shaffer & Craft, 1999).
- In the U.S., in the year 2002, almost 4,300 young people aged 10 to 24 died by suicide (Kochanek, Murphy, & Anderson, 2004).
- States spend nearly $1 billion annually on medical costs associated with completed suicides and suicide attempts by youth up to 20 years of age (NGA Center for Best Practices, 2001).
Approximately 50% of students age 14 and older who are living with a mental illness drop out of high school. This is the highest dropout rate of any disability group (U.S. Dept. of Education, 2001).
Juvenile and Criminal Justice Involvement
Youth with unidentified and untreated mental disorders also tragically end up in jails and prisons. According to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health—the largest ever undertaken—an alarming 65 percent of boys and 75 percent of girls in juvenile detention have at least one mental illness. “We are incarcerating youth living with mental illness, some as young as eight years old, rather than identifying their conditions early and intervening with appropriate treatment,” (Teplin, 2002).
Higher Health Care Utilization
When children with untreated mental disorders become adults, they use more health care services and incur higher health care costs than other adults. Left untreated, childhood disorders are likely to persist and lead to a downward spiral of school failure, limited or non-existent employment opportunities and poverty in adulthood. No other illnesses harm so many children so seriously.