Adolescent Health in Texas

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Welcome to Maternal & Child Health’s Adolescent Health website.

While adolescents are generally healthy, substance abuse and other risky behaviors can be common problems. These health issues can have long-term effects. Follow these links to learn more:


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Suicidal thoughts, like many mental health conditions, can affect anyone. Suicide is often due to an untreated mental health condition. Thoughts of suicide are common. But they should not be considered normal and can mean more serious issues. Having suicidal thoughts does not mean someone is weak or flawed.  

According to CDC's Youth Online, over 12 percent of Texas high school students attempted suicide in 2017. 4 percent were hurt bad enough to see a doctor.


Ten Warning Signs of Suicide

There can be signs to suicide. Ten warning signs of suicide are:

  • Preoccupation with death and dying
  • Drastic changes in behavior or personality
  • A recent severe loss (such as a relationship) or threat of a loss
  • Unexpected preparations for death such as making out a will
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • A previous suicide attempt
  • Unusual impulsiveness, recklessness, or risk-taking
  • Loss of interest in personal appearance
  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Sense of hopelessness about the future

Risk Factors for Suicide

More than half of people who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition. Many things may put a young person at risk of suicide, including:

  • A family history of suicide.
  • Substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol can result in mental highs and lows that impact suicidal thoughts.
  • Intoxication. More than 1 in 3 people who died from suicide were under the influence of alcohol.
  • Easy access to firearms.
  • A serious or chronic medical illness.
  • Gender. More young women than young men attempt suicide, but young men are 4 times more likely to die by suicide.
  • A history of trauma or abuse.
  • Prolonged stress.
  • Isolation.
  • Age. People under the age of 24 are at a higher risk for suicide.
  • A recent tragedy or loss.
  • Agitation and sleep deprivation.

DSHS’ Office of Injury Prevention / Child Fatality Review Position Statement reminds schools, doctors, and communities to reduce the risk of suicide. The statement can be found here. Suggestions include:

  • Promote mental health and wellness efforts
  • Ensure mental health services are available
  • Provide training on the risk factors and ways to reduce the risk
  • Screen youth often
  • Partner with parents


  • Call 9-1-1 immediately if someone is in danger.
  • Visit HHSC’s website (here) for more information.
  • Call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255).
  • Text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor.
  • Visit Texas Suicide Prevention’s website for more information.

The Maternal & Child Health - Adolescent Health area takes a “whole child” look at adolescent health and well-being. Instead of tackling risky behaviors alone, the Adolescent Health area focuses on:

  • the overlap between risky behaviors;
  • the common causes;
  • the strengths that a youth has;
  • the adults who support youth; and
  • successful activities.    

Youth work should center on skills youth need to cope with stress and reduce the urge to take risks. We refer to these skills as protective factors. Youth work should focus on strengths. The Positive Youth Development (PYD) model is key to health strategies for youth. PYD projects:

  • develop relationships with caring adults;
  • support caring interactions with parents;
  • promote positive connections to school; and
  • have opportunities for youth to experiment in healthy ways.  

Partners include:

  • State agencies
  • families
  • schools
  • churches
  • communities
  • youth agencies

Research from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that adolescents understand risk. The risk of any given action fails to stop them because of the benefits they perceive.  

MCH believes that youth and family input is vital to program success in the community. Please send questions or comments to us!

For more information, please contact us at:  

Texas Department of State Health Services
Maternal & Child Health
PO Box 149347, Mail Code 1922
Austin, TX 78714-9347
(512) 776-7373: Phone
(512) 458-7658: Fax


External links to other sites are intended to be informational and do not have the endorsement of the Texas Department of State Health Services. These external links may not be accessible to persons with disabilities. For more information about Maternal and Child Health or information regarding adolescent health in Texas, please email or call (512) 776-7373.


Last updated September 5, 2018