The report by the Haut Comite de la Sante Publique revealed 802 registered suicides among 15 to 24-year-olds in 1995. Suicide had been attempted by 12 per cent of young women aged 18 or over.
There were 13,000 deaths among the under-25s in 1993, said the report. The two groups at greatest risk were those aged between 15 and 24 and babies - the number of cot deaths has fallen, but is still higher than in other comparable countries.
More than 70 per cent of the nearly 6,000 deaths in the 15 to 24-year-old age group were due to suicides or accidents.
Accidents, mostly on the road, accounted for about half of all these deaths with boys at much greater risk than girls.
Many more boys killed themselves than girls - 756 compared with 210; and between 1960 and 1993 the rate of young male suicides tripled, though it remained relatively stable for young women.
Spain came just behind France for young people's premature deaths, with Britain a long way behind.