Many U.S. youth ages 14 to 22 expect to die before age 30, according to a new study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health. About one out of 15 young people (6.7 percent) expressed such “unrealistic fatalism,” the study concludes.
“I am surprised that one in 15 young Americans report they will die so young,” said lead author Patrick E. Jamieson of the Adolescent Risk Communication Institute. “I am also concerned and worried about the school dropout and suicide planning that accompanies this fatalism.”
The findings are based on four years of survey data totaling 4,201 adolescents conducted between 2002 and 2005 by the Adolescent Risk Communication Institute of the Annenberg Public Policy Center.
These fatalists tended to be male, older, Hispanic, and to have responded to the survey in Spanish. They were also more likely to not stay in school, to be a sensation seeker, and to have planned their suicide in the past year.
Jamieson and co-author Dan Romer, director of the Adolescent Risk Communication Institute, recommend that these at-risk youth be identified early and treated for their hopelessness and suicidal tendencies.
Despite a decline in the suicide rate for 10- to 24-year-olds, suicide remains the third leading cause of death in this age group.