Homelessness at any age is traumatic. In infancy, homelessness harms babies’ health and development, which continues into early childhood. For adolescents, homelessness means hunger, instability, and extreme emotional stress. Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) data from 17 states show that tragically, many high school students experiencing homelessness resort to self-harm as a response to the trauma of homelessness.
The data show that:
- More than one in three high school students experiencing homelessness attempted suicide in the year prior to completing the YRBS. Students experiencing homelessness were 7.19 times more likely to attempt suicide compared to stably housed youth.
- High school students experiencing homelessness are 3.21 times more likely to have a suicide plan compared to stably housed youth.
To explore these findings further, SchoolHouse Connection asked 49 young people with homeless experiences who participate in the mentorship and leadership programs of SchoolHouse Connection and the National Network for Youth about whether they had considered suicide.
59.18% of our young leaders reported making a suicide plan while in high school, and one in four reported a suicide attempt while in high school.
These devastating findings are not inevitable. Schools can provide students experiencing homelessness with access to mental health support, mentorship, basic needs, and hope.