Abstract

Background

Among Canadians aged 15 to 24, the rate of depression is higher than at any other age, and suicide is the second leading cause of death. The current study provides detailed information about depression and suicidal ideation among young Canadians, including their use of mental health support.

Data and Methods

Data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey–Mental Health (CCHS–MH) were used to describe rates and experiences of depression and suicidal ideation among Canadians aged 15 to 24, including psychosocial characteristics of those who had depression or reported suicidal thoughts. Characteristics associated with seeking professional support were also examined.

Results

About 11% of Canadians aged 15 to 24 had experienced depression in their lifetime; 7%, in the past year. Approximately 14% reported having had suicidal thoughts in their lifetime; 6%, in the past year. Lifetime depression and suicidal thoughts were moderately correlated (r = .34, p < .001). Individuals with lifetime depression had more than four times the odds of seeking professional support in the previous year, compared with those who did not have lifetime depression; those with lifetime suicidal thoughts had more than three times the odds of seeking professional support, compared with those who did not have lifetime suicidal thoughts. Psychosocial factors such as negative social interactions and lower perceived ability to deal with stress were associated with depression and suicidal thoughts, although these associations differed for males and females.

Interpretation

The findings suggest that many young Canadians have depression and/or suicidal thoughts. Their odds of seeking professional support are significantly high.

Keywords

Mental health conditions, mental health services, social determinants of health, youth

Findings

According to the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey―Mental Health, 15- to 24-year-olds had the highest rates of mood and anxiety disorders of all age groups. About 7% of them were identified as having had depression in the past 12 months, compared with 5% of people aged 25 to 64 and 2% of those aged 65 or older. [Full Text]

Authors

Leanne Findlay (leanne.findlay@canada.ca) is with the Health Analysis Division at Statistics Canada.

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What is already known on this subject?

  • An estimated 7% of 15- to 24-year-old Canadians had depression in the past 12 months.
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death at these ages.
  • Severe depression is associated with suicidal behaviour.
  • Less favourable socioeconomic conditions and psychosocial functioning are associated with mental health.
  • Fewer than half of young Canadians with a mental health condition sought professional support in the past 12 months.

What does this study add?

  • In 2012, 14% of Canadians aged 15 to 24 reported having had suicidal thoughts at some point in their life.
  • In the previous 12 months, 42% of those with depression and 36% of those with suicidal thoughts consulted a professional source of mental health support; 61% and 58%, respectively, consulted an informal source.
  • Associations between depression and suicidal thoughts and psychosocial factors such as negative social interactions and perceived ability to deal with stress differed for males and females.

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