Findings from a new study suggest a troubling trend for Canadian teenagers.
According to a report released Wednesday by Kids Help Phone, one in five teens has seriously considered suicide in the last 12 months.
“We’re concerned with how common suicidal thoughts are among teens in Canada, but while our report shows that suicidal thoughts are common in teens, suicide does not have to be,” said Alisa Simon, the vice-president of counselling services and programs for Kids Help Phone, in a news release Wednesday.
“It is absolutely crucial that we work together as a country, within our communities and in our classrooms, to create an open dialogue around suicide and suicidal thoughts, and that we foster understanding and build supports for young people that are there when they need them the most.”
Teens who have seriously considered attempting suicide in the last 12 months:
- Represented one in five teens, 22 per cent, surveyed
- 47% did not speak to anyone about suicide
- 46% said they had formulated a plan
- Were twice as likely to be girls as boys
- Were much more likely than teens who did not consider attempting suicide to have reported body or self-image concerns, violence at home or school or drug or alcohol addictions.
The results are based on a national online survey of 1,319 teens in Canada between the ages of 13-8. It’s statistically representative of age and gender across each province and explored issues such as suicide, body or self-image, relationship issues and bullying.
The study found one of the primary indicators for whether a teen was experiencing an issue was if they’d searched the web or social media for related information.
This was the case for more than half the respondents who said they had considered suicide. Simon said a similar number of teens reported they did not speak to anyone about thoughts of taking their own life.
“It’s when we aren’t aware that a problem exists that we face the greatest barriers to helping a young person address their suicidal thoughts,” Simon said.
“This report’s findings present us with a golden opportunity to work better to meet kids where they are at in their digital world, and provide the supports they need in this space for when they don’t reach out in person.”
The results also suggested correlations between the suicidal thoughts and specific behaviours. It found teens experiencing suicidal thoughts were often dealing with other challenges at the same time.
The top concerns reported by those surveyed were body or self-image, 46 per cent, and relationships, 40 per cent.
Kids Help Phone provides counselling and referrals in both official languages as the only national helpline for young people.
The charity has been in operation since 1989 and offers kids and teens support through its confidential and anonymous service.