Survey Shows Alarming Number of Young People Have Considered Suicide

For Immediate Release

Jan. 10, 2020




HAMILTON, Ont. — An online survey that was done by Youth Mental Health Canada (YMHC) found that a significant number of youth across the country have contemplated or attempted suicide.


Alarmingly, 32 per cent of young people who participated in the survey indicated they had considered attempting suicide in the previous four-week period while three per cent had actually made an attempt. Equally disturbing, half of respondents aged 19 had considered an attempt.


The Youth Mental Wellness Survey was conducted between November 2018 and June 2019 to get a clearer picture of the mental health challenges facing young people and a better understanding of their needs. Nearly 400 youth 10 to over 20 years of age from across Canada participated.


“These figures are very disturbing and cause for great concern,” says Sheryl Boswell, executive director of the YMHC and an expert on child and youth mental health issues. “It is increasingly clear that mental illness is a serious issue in Canada and one that is threatening the lives of our children.


“We must do more to protect our school-age children and teenagers and recognize and understand the challenges that are causing a large number of them to consider taking their own lives. We need to provide the appropriate tools to help them overcome their mental health challenges.”


The survey asked a number of specific questions to gain more insight from youth as to why they might consider suicide. The information will help educators and mental health professionals chart a course of action.


The survey explored everything from what would cause a young person to think about attempting suicide to how they manage stress and the amount of sleep they get on a school night. Questions also delved into how youth feel about school, if there was a staff member they could talk to, and how often they discussed their problems or feelings with a friend or family member.


The survey found that 59 per cent of respondents did not know where to go or who to ask if they needed to talk to someone about a mental health or emotional problem and that other than listening to music their strategies for managing stress and mental health seems to be limited.


“Mental illness is increasingly threatening the lives of our children and we have to make sure that youth know where to turn to for help and guidance,” says Boswell. “We all have a part to play in suicide prevention. Suicidal youth are in pain. They don't necessarily want to die, they just want to end their pain. We need to get the message to young people that help is available  to them.”


To tackle the problem, YMHC has produced a number of youth mental wellness tools and resources, including four easy-to-read, interactive mental wellness workbooks to help youth work through their challenges. The workbooks are appropriate for all ages, backgrounds and needs, and have exercises for youth around goal-setting, problem-solving and self-awareness. They also provide mental health coping tools and information about school and community supports.


The workbooks were showcased at the International Association for Youth Mental Health conference recently in Australia. Three of the books sell for $19.99 (Cdn.) each and a fourth sells for $49.99 (Cdn.). The books can be found on the YMHC website at under the Resources/YMHC Education Website/Resources tabs.


The books have worksheets that help youth identify what they are actually stressed about as well as exercises aimed at teaching them how to overcome obstacles, build bridges and deal with worries. Like a daily fitness routine, the books offer practices and action steps to help youth build the mental muscles of resilience for when hard times hit, and focus on building a life worth living.


“The tools and resources in the workbooks are best practices to help youth build the emotional intelligence they need to overcome difficulties,” explains Boswell. “They provide strategies for responding to mental health challenges with awareness, understanding, caring and compassion.”


YMHC Canada is a grassroots, youth-driven and led non-profit organization focused on education and advocacy for youth mental health change that advocates for greater funding of publicly funded, culturally sensitive, needs-based, innovative supports and services in healthcare and education.


More Information


Sheryl Boswell

Executive Director, YMHC

(647) 952-9642

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