News Archive: January – March 2018


February, 2018


‘Sometimes I wish I could die’: CMS suicide screenings have tripled in 5 years

The paper written by a second-grader was literally a cry for help.

“Me and my mom have not been getting along Ive been super tired frustrayd mad & Ive been crying alot. Sometimes I wish I could die,” it said. “Plese help me or give me avice.”

Last year Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools screened more than 2,100 students for suicide risk, a number Superintendent Clayton Wilcox said recently “should be shocking for all of us.” That’s triple the number logged just five years earlier – and this school year the district is on track to hit 3,000.

Just as shocking: The second-grader who wrote about wanting to die was not a fluke. Hundreds of young children show risk signs each year, with the bulk falling between grades 3 and 8.

The Charlotte Observer, February 28, 2018


Suicide prevention talk targets young audience

Barb O’Keefe believes there’s no age too young to start talking about suicide prevention.

O’Keefe works on behalf of Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program and travels to area organizations lecturing on how to best talk about and prevent suicide. She speaks to people of all ages and professions, but last Tuesday night at the Fort Calhoun Presbyterian Church she focused on addressing the sensitive topic to children.

“At the age of five, kids know the word suicide,” O’Keefe said. “They don’t know the seriousness of it or the finality of it, but they know the word.”

Washington County Pilot-Tribune & Enterprise, February 27, 2018


Pediatricians call for universal depression screening for teens

Only about 50 percent of adolescents with depression get diagnosed before reaching adulthood. And as many as 2 in 3 depressed teens don’t get the care that could help them.

“It’s a huge problem,” says Dr. Rachel Zuckerbrot, a board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrist and associate professor at Columbia University.

To address this divide, the American Academy of Pediatrics has issued updated guidelines this week that call for universal screening for depression.

“What we’re endorsing is that everyone, 12 and up, be screened … at least once a year,” Zuckerbrot says. The screening, she says, could be done during a well-visit, a sports’ physical or during another office visit.

MPR News, February 25, 2018


At Japan’s suicide cliffs, he’s walked 609 people back from the edge

Almost no one jumps on rainy days.

They jump when the sun returns and the masses step outside, reminding them of their misery. They jump during financial crises and in the early spring, when Japanese schools open and the pressures of life converge.

Yukio Shige’s routine, though, is the same regardless of the weather.

Nearly every day, he clambers across the high basalt columns of the Tojinbo cliffs, the Sea of Japan thrashing 80 feet below. He peers into binoculars, seeking hunched figures on distant rocks, ready to talk them down.

In 15 years, he’s walked 609 people back from the edge.

“The way I save people, it’s like I’m seeing a friend,” said Shige, 73, a retired policeman with a floppy fishing hat and a gentle demeanor. “It’s not exciting or anything. I’m like, ‘Hey, how are you doing?’ These people are asking for help. They’re just waiting for someone to speak with them.”

Japan’s suicide rate is among the highest in the developed world.

MSN.com, Los Angeles Times, February 23, 2018


Saddle Brook mourns 10th grade honor student who died by suicide

He was the “golden child,” an athlete, the Saddle Brook High School honors student who seemed to be everybody’s good friend. 

But 15-year-old Andrew Gutierrez apparently wrestled with demons that nobody knew about. 

On Friday, the 10th-grader opted to end his battle, leaving his heartbroken family and friends searching for answers. 

Friends and family gathered Monday night at Veterans Field for an emotional vigil where they shared their grief and recalled memories of Andrew.

Close to 300 people dressed in red, his favorite color, stood shoulder to shoulder, holding bright red balloons in the field near his home where he played as a child. At the end of the ceremony, they released the balloons as a final prayer to Andrew.

NorthJersey.com, February 20, 2018


Cassidy Joined for Hope raises suicide awareness

After her 16-year-old daughter, Cassidy, committed suicide in December 2015, Kim Hess teamed up with her daughter’s friends to find a way to ensure no other family in The Woodlands area fell victim to suicide.

“Cassidy was the last person in the world you would think would consider taking her own life,” Hess said. “It still doesn’t make sense. To this day, I don’t know what happened. No school, no community, no family is immune: Suicide doesn’t discriminate.”

Hess founded Cassidy Joined for Hope Inc. in May 2016 with the hope of giving children the tools and training they need to be advocates for suicide prevention. The organization was first established as a student-led club called CAVS Joined for Hope—named for the school mascot—at College Park High School where Cassidy attended.

“We decided to create a club at school that’s a safe place where kids can talk openly about things like this and shine a light on such a dark topic,” Hess said. “Our main thing is to just get people talking to break the silence and to remove the stigma from [talking about]suicide.”

Community Impact Newspaper, February 14, 2018

Cassidy Joined for Hope raises suicide awareness


Suicide: the silent epidemic

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., with a steady increase in the last 12 years.

“If cancer went up for 12 straight years, you’d hear about it,” Michael Nadorff said, psychology professor and director of Mississippi State University’s Sleep, Suicide and Aging Laboratory.

According to the National College Health Assessment, 2.4 percent of the student body at MSU attempts suicide every year.  

“I think (silence) is fueling (suicide) in that people don’t understand how prevalent it is, and how big of a deal it is because it’s hidden,” Nadorff said.

Nardorff explained silence about suicide is dangerous to society because it increases the stigma.

The Reflector, February 14, 2018


Identifying Youth at Risk for Suicide: Toolkit from the National Institute of Mental Health can help

With suicide rates rising and an alarming number of teens and young adults at serious risk for suicide, many health professionals are not fully prepared to recognize a patient’s psychiatric difficulties. A team of researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) recently came up with the ASQ Toolkit, a simple four-question survey for health professionals to help identify and get help for at-risk youth.

NIMH’s Division of Intramural Research Programs created the free Ask Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ) Toolkit that can be used in various medical settings. According to the NIMH, the toolkit (available in many languages) is easy to use, making it effective in many settings including emergency departments (ED), outpatient clinics, primary care offices, and inpatient medical/surgical units.

Medpage Today, February 11, 2018


Power Of Pets: Companion Animals A Major Source Of Support For People With Mental Health Problems

A new study shows that pets can provide valuable support and benefits to their humans, especially for those living with mental health problems.

Results show that perhaps it’s time to consider pets as a major source of support in the long-term management of mental health issues.

There are pros and cons to pet ownership but for many pet owners, the pros largely outweigh the cons. Researchers from the Universities of Manchester, Liverpool, and Southampton reviewed just exactly what kind of benefits companion animals can give, especially among pet owners who are dealing with long-term mental health problems.

Tech Times, February 11, 2018


Suicides increased 10% after Robin Williams’ death, study finds

Suicides rose nearly 10% higher than expected in the months following Robin Williams’ death in August 2014, according to a new Columbia University study. Such tragedies involving the method Williams used — suffocation — spiked 32% over that time, suggesting news coverage of the beloved actor’s death may have played a role.

The study, published Wednesday in the journal PLOS One, seems the first to examine how high-profile suicides affect Americans in the era of 24-hour news. 

USA Today, February 8, 2018


To Combat Teen Suicide, Georgia Officials Turn To Social Media


 Georgia officials are turning to social media to try to combat teen suicide.

From 2015 to 2017, 144 kids and teens in Georgia committed suicide. This year, four children in the state have already committed suicide. The GBI is looking into a possible fifth case. Now, it’s released videos on YouTube to try to reach young people with the message, help is out there.

WABE, February 8, 2018


Princeton Mother On Daughter’s Suicide: ‘She Was My Everything’

It’s a topic many of us find tough to talk about: Suicide.

But a Minnesota mom is sharing her story in the hopes of helping others. Tira Aubrecht’s 15-year-old daughter, Mariah, died by suicide. She was a sophomore at Princeton High School.

And as WCCO’s Angela Davis shares, her life story is one Mariah’s mother hopes other parents can learn from.

“She is my mini-me and everybody who sees us is like ‘Oh my gosh, you guys look alike.’ Well she is my daughter,” Tira Aubrecht said.

Tira Aubrecht remembers a happy child with close friends, a girl who embraced being the oldest of five children. A teenager who dreamed of joining the Air Force so she could travel the world.

WCCO-CBS, February 7, 2018


What’s left behind: Straight talk about teen suicide

Two moms. One terrible tie that binds. Unthinkable grief for both. They are good people.  Parents, with real, personal stories of years of crippling heartache because their kids aren’t coming back.

Their stories stayed with me, long after the interviews were over. Because in their loss is such an important lesson for all parents, now more than ever. Kids are dying to an epidemic that doesn’t discriminate.From the suburb of Rocky River, to a Cleveland neighborhood on Kinsman.

Rocky River High School Senior Micah Lewins’ 18th birthday was just 5 days before his death.

“He was a football player. He was a wrestler. He was a good, well rounded kid,” Micah’s mom Jane Lewins tells us. We’re sitting in Jane’s Westlake office where throw pillows and everything positive feels like the comfiest of homes.

It’s where Jane counsels kids contemplating suicide or families surviving in spite of it.

She is unwillingly overqualified for the position.

WKYC, Cleveland, OH, February, 5, 2018

 


January, 2018


Why Suicide Survivors Took The Stage At The 2018 Grammys

The Grammy Awards on Sunday evening were filled with moving performances and powerful messages. For many, the most impactful show of the evening came near the end of the night, when the rappers Logic and Khalid and singer Alessia Cara took to the stage to perform their song “1-800-273-8255.”

The song is named after the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s hotline number and it’s a powerful anti-suicide anthem whose lyrics demonstrate a cry for help from someone who’s suffering — and the caring response this person will receive.

Simplemost, January 31, 2018


Grammys: Suicide Prevention Highlighted in Song Performed by Logic, Alessia Cara and Khalid

Logic raised awareness on the Grammys stage during his empowering performance of “1-800-273-8255” on Sunday night.

During the performance, the rapper, alongside Alessia Cara and Khalid, was joined by a group of suicide survivors donning T-shirts that displayed the hotline number and inspirational message that read, “You are not alone.” The song title is the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

The Hollywood Reporter, January 28, 2018


1 year after suicide, 8-year-old Gabe Taye’s story is far from over

The circumstances surrounding 8-year-old Gabe Taye’s suicide still haunt Angela Jones. “It was kind of sad, like, it was real sad,” Jones said.

Jones is the parent of two students at Carson School in West Price Hill. It’s the same school Gabe attended, and it’s been loudly criticized by parents who support Gabe’s mom, Cornelia Reynolds. WLWT investigator Todd Dykes spoke to Reynolds four days after her son took his life.

“My baby was being bullied at school,” Reynolds said. “And I just feel like nothing is being done, and if it happens to my child I’m sure there’s other children out here being bullied, and I don’t want them to take their lives.”

About four months after Dykes spoke to Reynolds, video surfaced that captured an incident in a bathroom at Carson School. The video shows Gabe falling to the floor — pushed down by another student, according to attorneys for his family. Gabe lay motionless for five minutes before help finally arrived.

While expressing sadness about Gabe’s death and vowing to more aggressively deal with bullying issues, Cincinnati school leaders say the 8-year-old fainted in the bathroom. 

WLWT5 News, January 26, 2018


Black student commits suicide at DC boarding school

A Black student in a DC boarding school was discovered dead by her roommates of an apparent suicide. She was only 12.

According to Fox 5 of DC, police were called to the SEED School of Washington D.C. on Tuesday after the girl’s roommates found her unconscious at around 6:15 a.m. Paramedics could not revive her.

The school called parents to tell them to come pick up their children that morning.

It is not yet clear what the circumstances were around the suicide.

Mami Buxton pulled her son out of SEED after he endured two years of bullying and was even allegedly sexually assaulted by another student. She said that she was upset to see someone else’s child suffering too.

“It kind of touched me really deep because of the situation that has been happening with my son at this school,” Buxton said.

The Grio, January 24, 2018


Tiny suicide prevention bill could save Iowa teenagers’ lives

A young person commits suicide in the United States at the rate of one per hour and four minutes. It’s the second leading cause of death for people age 15 to 24.

Four out of five teenagers who attempt suicide exhibit clear warning signs, according to the Justin Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to suicide prevention.

Those are just statistics to many people — but not to those who have known a teenager who has taken his or her own life.

Yet nothing in Iowa law requires that teachers and other educators be capable of recognizing these danger signals and getting appropriate help.  That may change this year, as a result of legislation currently seeing bipartisan cooperation at the Iowa Statehouse.

Originally, Senate File 2004 called for Iowa teachers to take an hour of suicide awareness and prevention training annually as part of their license renewal.  That idea has faced opposition in the past, because it adds training requirements without any money to pay for it, said Sen. Amy Sinclair, R-Allerton.

Des Moines Register, January 23, 2018


Classmates Charged With Cyberstalking 12-Year-Old Girl Before Her Suicide

Two 12-year-olds in Florida have been charged with cyberstalking in connection with the death of a middle-school student who police say hanged herself two weeks ago.

The circumstances around the death of 12-year-old Gabriella Green on Jan. 10 led to the arrests of the two Surfside Middle School students, Panama City Beach officials said in a news release Monday.

Police did not release the names of the two children who were arrested because they are minors.

Investigators were made aware of the potential cyberbullying against the girl while looking into the death, which led them to examine several cellphones and social media accounts, the news releases.

TIME, January 23, 2018


Attempted suicide in adolescence: A review and critique of the literature

Reviewed 17 studies (published 1969–1988) covering 3 major areas pertinent to attempted suicide in adolescence: characteristics of the attempt (lethality, intent, and precipitants); psychological factors associated with suicidal behavior; and follow-up course. Findings suggest that there was a significant degree of individual and family dysfunction among many adolescent suicide attempters. 

APA PsycNet, January 20, 2018


A teenager’s perspective on how to tackle the problem of suicide

In a school with outstanding academic performance, other issues can linger beneath the surface. This is especially true for the Mason school district.

Over the past decade, Mason High School has seen thousands of students pass through its halls and enter the real world. In that same time frame, Mason has lost nine students to suicide. This represents an average of one suicide every year.

Mental illness is an epidemic among teenagers today, affecting an estimated 20 percent of all 13- to 20-year-olds. A study published in Pediatrics at the end of 2016 found a significant rise in teen depression over the last few years, but little to no increase in mental health treatment. This rings true at Mason.

Cincinnati.com, January 20, 2018


Childhood bullying linked to suicide risk for teens

Adolescents who experienced severe bullying by their peers earlier in childhood may be more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts than teens who weren’t routinely victimized by other kids, a Canadian study suggests.

Researchers examined data on 1,363 children who were surveyed about peer victimization and bullying from ages 6 to 13 and monitored for any mental health issues through age 15. Most participants experienced little or no victimization, but about 26 percent reported some bullying and almost 15 percent said they suffered severe, long-lasting victimization.

Compared to teens who experienced little or no bullying as kids, adolescents who suffered chronic tormenting by their peers were more than twice as likely to be depressed and more than three times more likely to be anxious or seriously consider suicide, the study found.

Reuters, January 16, 2018


Officials address ‘suicide contagion’ after 6 deaths in northeast Ohio school district

Parents in a northeast Ohio town are being asked to watch their children closely after six students in the same district took their lives.

The Perry Local Schools District in Canton along with law enforcement and mental health experts expressed their concern on Friday.

Four high school students, one middle school student and a recent graduate all ended their lives within this school year.

Health experts are calling this a “suicide contagion.” It means exposure to suicide can increase suicidal behavior in others.

10TV News, January 15, 2018


Book chronicles mother’s struggle with suicide of son

A local mom, struggling to deal with her son’s death, wrote a book about her search for answers.

She hopes her pledge to write her son’s name – on every beach – will help others. A sand-sketched tribute that salt water will soon wash away. But for Susan Auerbach the exercise brings a lasting calm as she reflects on her son Noah. “Just trying to connect with his memory,” she said.

In life, Noah Langholz loved the beach and surfing. He loved his family.

So when the outwardly confident college junior took his life by hanging, in his parents’ garage two days after running the Los Angeles Marathon in 2013, the unthinkable traumatic loss hit his mother like a tidal wave.

“You’re not only full of grief, you know, the worst nightmare a parent could ever have, you’re full of shock and your body is reacting to the shock,” said Auerbach. She chronicled her journey through the recovery process in a book, “I’ll Write Your Name on Every Beach.”

Eyewitness News ABC 7, January 15, 2018


‘Suicide contagion’: 6 teens die in small Ohio school district

Community leaders are asking parents to talk to their children about suicide following the deaths of five current and one former students in a small Stark County district this school year.

The Perry Local School District on Friday announced the most recent student death and categorized all six deaths as suicides. School officials were joined at a news conference by representatives from law enforcement, township government, churches and the mental health sector to discuss what they know about the deaths and to express their commitment to preventing future suicides…

…The string of deaths, however, is being looked at as a “suicide contagion,” which is when exposure to suicide increases suicidal behavior. Carole Vesely, with the Crisis Intervention and Recovery Center, said being a teenager or going to the same school could be enough of a connection.

The Columbus Dispatch, January 14, 2018


After young hat model’s suicide, dad invites bullies to funeral to see ‘devastation’

Australians loved her pretty little face. They knew her name.

Dolly.

She was the Akubra Hats girl, the face of the iconic outback hat company’s advertising campaign when she was younger. She became the symbol of Australia’s Outback.

Now she’s gone.

Amy Jayne Everett, known as Dolly, killed herself on Jan. 3 “to escape the evil in this world,” her father says.

By evil he means bullies.

She was 14.

The Kansas City Star, January 11, 2018


A week later, YouTube condemns a Logan Paul vlog of a suicide victim’s body, says it’s looking at ‘further consequences’

A week ago, Logan Paul uploaded a video to his 15 million subscribers titled “We found a dead body in the Japanese Suicide Forest . . .” The video’s thumbnail image — the still image that shows up on YouTube’s trending pages and search results as a preview for the video — showed a partially blurred body hanging from a tree in the background; in the foreground was the YouTube superstar’s worried face. Paul was wearing a funny green hat.

The video title, sadly, was not clickbait. The vlog contained extensive, close-up footage of an apparent suicide victim’s body. Paul’s vlog horrified many YouTubers, before the outrage spread from YouTube’s immediate community to the wider public — including the shocked parents of Paul’s huge, and very young, fan base. The video came down as the outrage became a national news story, and Paul apologized, and announced that he was going to step away from his daily vlogging schedule to take “time to reflect.”

The Washington Post, January 9, 2018


iPhones pose suicide risk to teenagers, Apple investors warn

Two major Apple shareholders have taken the unusual step of warning the Cupertino company about the potential dangers of their most popular product.

In an open letter to Apple, published on Saturday, Barry Rosenstein and Anne Sheehan cited studies linking the use of iPhones and other devices to increased suicide rates among teens.

Writing on behalf of hedge fund Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)—who collectively own around $2 billion in Apple shares—the pair highlighted the need for more research into the impact of smartphone use among young people.

“More than 10 years after the iPhone’s release, it is a cliche to point out the ubiquity of Apple’s devices among children and teenagers, as well as the attendant growth in social media by this group,” the letter stated.

“What is less well known is that there is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences,” it continued.

Newsweek, January 8, 2018


Can Canada Use AI to Crack Suicide Trends?

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and in Canada, it is the second leading cause of death for people aged 10 to 19. Globally, roughly 800,000 people die by suicide every year. Unfortunately, only 60 countries have up-to-date, quality data on suicide, and 28 have a reported national strategy for how to handle and prevent suicide.

Canada has recently taken a stand against suicide, and the government has hired an Ottawa-based company which specializes in both social media and artificial intelligence (AI) to identify online trends and find patterns of suicide-related behaviors.

The major goal of this project is to “define ‘suicide-related behavior’ on social media and use that classifier to conduct market research on the general population.

Futurism, January 6, 2018


Hopelessness and the increasing suicide rate in America

… I thought about this story after a conversation I had with my oldest daughter, regarding the increase of suicide among young girls. She was troubled by the number of teenagers and young adults she encounters, who bear scars in their arms and wrists, evidence of their profound despair and hopelessness.

The conversation prompted me to do some research on the stats of suicide in America.

According to a report released by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2015, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., claiming the lives of almost 45,000 Americans every year. Furthermore, after a steady decline in the ’80s and ’90s, statistics now show that the suicide rate has increased steadily in the past several years, with one group standing out — girls between the ages of 10 and 14. Although they make a small portion of the total of suicides, the rate for this group has increased more than any other, tripling over 15 years from 0.5 to 1.7 per 100,000 people.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution, January 5, 2018


Long Before Video, Japanese Fought Suicide in the ‘Sea of Trees’

AOKIGAHARA FOREST, Japan — Long before the YouTube star Logan Paul brought renewed notoriety to this primeval forest at the foot of Mount Fuji by posting a video of a body hanging from a tree, local officials fought to reverse Aokigahara’s bleak reputation as one of Japan’s top suicide destinations.

The forest looms large in the national consciousness, emblematic of a persistent suicide problem in Japan, which has one of the highest suicide rates of developed countries despite improvements in recent years.

At Aokigahara, signs at the foot of walking paths promote a suicide hotline. “Life is a precious thing that your parents gave to you,” the signs read. Another offers a number for help with debt. Locals patrol the forest, talking to people who are alone or show signs of depression or suicidal plans.

The New York Times, January 5, 2018


Bullying drove SC boy to kill himself, mother says. State agents are investigating

State authorities are investigating the suicide of a 12-year-old Lexington County boy who, his mother said, killed himself after being bullied at school.

The boy’s mother said in a Facebook post Monday that her 12-year-old son killed himself “to ease his extreme pain from bullying at school.”

“My sweet sweet boy was suffering an unbearable pain in silence and I couldn’t help him because I didn’t know,” she wrote. “I couldn’t see.”

Lexington County Coroner Margaret Fisher ruled the boy’s Dec. 29 death a suicide. She said he left a note that helped investigators make that determination but declined to comment on further details about his death, including the potential role of bullying.

The State, January 4, 2018


Before Suicide: A Parent’s Journey

A parent’s love is highly durable, and when a child suffers a mental illness that love bears a special responsibility that will last a lifetime. Stefanie Hoffman has this Perspective.

It’s funny how we only hear about suicide when it’s too late – after it’s been committed. For many, suicide is always accompanied by shock as well as sorrow. “Why would they do that?” I often hear. But I have a bit more insight.

For the past eight years, my daughter – who goes to school in another state – has struggled with a volatile depression associated with bipolar disorder that has led to several suicide attempts. And I’ve had a front row seat.

KQED, January 4, 2018


Suicide and social media in the suburbs: A cascade of hearts, a sense of loss

On Instagram and Snapchat, sadness melded with rumor and fear. Students reeled first from the suicide of a 16-year-old girl at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, Maryland. Six days later, social media lit up again.

Another student was dead in the same suburb outside Washington.

For a second time, teenagers shared the loss by posting an emoji heart set against a stark black background on Snapchat. The first suicide drew a red heart. The second was green. Then, amid a wave of disbelief, some teens posted a heart in blue, suggesting a third death.

“It was pretty shocking,” said Anna Kessler, 14, a ninth-grader at Northwest High School in Germantown, Maryland, who recalled wondering how many colors of hearts would accumulate. “I thought, how long is this going to go on?”

Chicago Tribune, January 2, 2018


The Logan Paul video should be a reckoning for YouTube 

By the time Logan Paul arrived at Aokigahara forest, colloquially known as Japan’s “suicide forest,” the YouTube star had already confused Mount Fuji with the country Fiji. His over 15 million (mostly underage) subscribers like this sort of comedic aloofness—it serves to make Paul more relatable.

After hiking only a couple hundred yards into Aokigahara—where over 247 people attempted to take their own lives in 2010 alone, according to police statistics cited in The Japan Times—Paul encountered a suicide victim’s body hanging from a tree. Instead of turning the camera off, he continued filming, and later uploaded close-up shots of the corpse, with the person’s face blurred out.

“Did we just find a dead person in the suicide forest?” Paul said to the camera. “This was supposed to be a fun vlog.” He went on to make several jokes about the victim, while wearing a large, fluffy green hat.

Wired, January 3, 2018