On this page we’ll be posting links to articles and information that will help our visitors gain a broader perspective of issues important to us. We will look across the wide spectrum of suicide research, adolescent brain development, and the diagnosis and treatment of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. For more links, please see our News Archive page.
Deaths From Suicide: A Look at 18 States
A Special Report with Data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, 2013-2014
Established in 1993, the Safe States Alliance is a national non-profit organization and professional association whose mission is to strengthen the practice of injury and violence prevention. Safe States is the only national non-profit or-ganization and professional association that represents the diverse and ever-expanding group of professionals who comprise the field of injury and violence prevention.
Safe States • www.safestates.org • February 2017
The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team – whose investigative work was the subject of the acclaimed 2015 film Spotlight – has produced a report on the current state of mental health care in Massachusetts, The Desperate and the Dead: Families in Fear. Closing psychiatric hospitals seemed humane, but the state failed to build a system to replace them, June 23, 2016.
Children’s Hospitals Admissions for Suicidal Thoughts or Actions Double During Past Decade – Report from the Pediatric Academic Societies.
Suicide Rates After Discharge From Psychiatric Facilities
IMPORTANCE: High rates of suicide after psychiatric hospitalization are reported in many studies, yet the magnitude of the increases and the factors underlying them remain unclear.
OBJECTIVES: To quantify the rates of suicide after discharge from psychiatric facilities and examine what moderates those rates.
JAMA Psychiatry, June 01, 2017
The World Health Organization and the International Association for Suicide Prevention have released an updated version of their guide for media professionals, Preventing Suicide. It’s a 21 page resource for responsible reporting about suicide and includes a section on the scientific evidence of the impact media has on suicidal behavior.
Highly recommended reading for anyone who cares about this issue. If you come across insensitive or inappropriate reporting on suicide, consider sending this guide to the editors and reporters.
“13 Reasons Why” – Waiting for the Light,
Cursing the Bread
The Netflix adaptation of the young adult novel 13 Reasons Why has stirred up debate about how this topic is covered across media – especially in popular fiction.
Here on the Tommy Fuss News page we’ve covered this topic several times:
City teen’s suicide prevention video goes viral – 13 Reasons Why Not
– The Journal Gazette, June 3, 2017
Is Suicide Contagion Real?
– Psych Central, May 19, 2017
How To React When Your Friend Is Talking About Suicide
– Refinery29, May 5, 2017
Educators and school psychologists raise alarms about 13 Reasons Why
– The Washington Post, May 2, 2017
Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and the trouble with dramatising suicide
– The Guardian, April 26, 2017
How 13 Reasons Why gets suicide wrong: Voices
– USA Today, April 18, 2017
To these we’d like to add this publication from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Tips for Parents to talk with their Children about 13 Reasons Why and Suicide.
Critics have pointed out that the framing device – the central character Hannah sends 13 cassette tapes to friends and others detailing how they contributed to her decision to end her life – is not the typical course of the mental illness and stressors that result in suicide.
[May I be forgiven for suggesting that a contemporary teenager using a cassette tape recorder instead of a smartphone to make and distribute their post-suicide diatribes seems a wild anachronism. Akin to having Hannah send the info via telegram. The teens I know today would be hard pressed to identify a cassette tape much less use one.]
13 Reasons Why has been accused of romanticizing suicide, a claim that also could be made against the most famous teen suicides in all of literature: 15 year old Romeo Montague and 13 year old Juliet Capulet.
The arch of the 13 Reasons Why story also defines suicide as a means of revenge against those who Hannah felt betrayed and ostracized her. This, researchers and professionals tell us, is almost never the case in real life. Depression and anxiety are mental illnesses that, left untreated (or improperly treated), can result in suicide.
It is not the actions of others that is the primary cause of suicidal ideation. It is a self-generated condition. Externally many suicides can appear successful in all the ways we measure success.
Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.
And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
‘Good-morning,’ and he glittered when he walked.
And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.
So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head.
– Edwin Arlington Robinson
Life-Saving Post-ER Suicide Prevention Strategies are Cost Effective – Follow-up postcards less expensive, more effective than usual care: NIH study
Three interventions designed for follow up of patients who are identified with suicide risk in hospital emergency departments save lives and are cost effective relative to usual care. A study led by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) modelled the use of the approaches in emergency departments and found that all three interventions compare favorably with a standard benchmark of cost-effectiveness used in evaluating healthcare costs.
One intervention, sending caring postcards or letters following an emergency visit, is more effective and less expensive than usual care. The report appears in the September 15 issue of the journal Psychiatric Services.
How To Talk To Your College-Age Kids About Depression And Suicide
School’s back in session, and parents ushering kids to college for the first time will undoubtedly deliver some emotional nuggets of advice. But they should also have a potentially life-saving talk with their kids in the first semester of college to avert a possible tragedy — suicide.
In my experience as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, parents can be naïve about both the academic and social pressures kids face in college. While we’re confident that our children will flourish and excel, it’s also important to equip them with information on the mental health challenges some college students encounter.
Per the American College Health Association, one-third of college-aged students report being depressed to the point of being unable to function. In his book, “College of the Overwhelmed,” Harvard psychiatrist Richard Kadison says that 1 in 10 students will seriously consider suicide.
Suicide Attempts On the Rise in US, Finds Study – Highest risk seen in socioeconomically disadvantaged young adults with mental disorders
New data confirm that suicide attempts among U.S. adults are on the rise, with a disproportional effect on younger, socioeconomically disadvantaged adults with a history of mental disorders.
The study, by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI), was published today in JAMA Psychiatry.
“Attempted suicide is the strongest risk factor for suicide, so it’s important that clinicians know just who faces the highest risk so that we can do a better job of preventing suicides from happening,” said Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at CUMC and lead author of the study.
Lawsuit Over a Suicide Points to a Risk of Antidepressants
The last dinner Wendy Dolin had with her husband, Stewart, he was so agitated that he was jiggling his leg under the table and could barely sit still. He had recently started a new antidepressant but still felt very anxious. “I don’t get it, Wen,” he said.
The next day, Mr. Dolin, a 57-year-old Chicago lawyer, paced up and down a train platform for several minutes and then threw himself in front of an oncoming train.
Ms. Dolin soon became convinced that the drug her husband had started taking five days before his death — paroxetine, the generic form of Paxil — played a role in his suicide by triggering a side effect called akathisia, a state of acute physical and psychological agitation. Sufferers have described feeling as if they were “jumping out of their skin.”
The distress of akathisia may explain the heightened risk of suicide in some patients, some psychiatrists believe. The symptoms are so distressing, a drug company scientist wrote in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, that patients may feel “death is a welcome result.”
Teen Girls With Smartphones Flirt Most With Depression and Suicide
A spike in the teen suicide rate parallels almost exactly the rise of smartphone use, especially among teen girls, who are the most vulnerable to cyberbullying and alienation.
On Instagram, Snapchat, and via text, the messages wouldn’t stop coming to 12-year-old Mallory Grossman’s phone. She was a loser with no friends, they wrote. One message even said, “Why don’t you kill yourself?”
Not long afterward, the 6th grader did just that, committing suicide on June 14, 2017.
Mallory’s story is a tragic part of a larger trend shaping today’s generation of teens and young adults, the post-Millennials born after 1995 whom I call iGen and describe in my book of the same name. Around 2012, more teens in large national surveys started to say they felt hopeless and useless—classic symptoms of depression. In a large, government-funded study designed to screen for mental health issues, the number of teens with clinical-level depression rose substantially between 2011 and 2015. Most troubling, the child and teen suicide rate increased sharply.
Newport-Mesa is taking the lead on working to prevent teen suicides
Children committing suicide is the last thing any of us wants to think about.
But we must, for what has been called a silent epidemic is real. Every day, on average, thousands of young people try to kill themselves.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 10-to-24-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined.
There are indications that the problem is getting worse. The number of children aged 5 to 17 who were admitted to children’s hospitals because of thoughts of suicide or self-harm more than doubled between 2008 and 2015, according to research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in San Francisco in May.
Every year in Orange County alone, about 700 youth aged 10 to 19 years old require medical treatment because of self-inflicted injuries. It’s estimated that 2% die from the injuries.
Looking away and doing nothing is not an option.
Two student suicides in two days, both following social media posts, leave Littleton community seeking answers – Arapahoe County has had eight teen suicides already this year
In the twilight, they pointed the lights of their cellphones toward the students in the center of the circle. They numbered in the hundreds, gathered in a grassy park on a school night through the power of Snapchat.
They’ve done this at least twice before when they lost friends to suicide, but this time, the loss in Littleton was double: two teen suicides in two days. Sitting on the grass as night fell, they took turns rushing to the center to remember their friends, to hug and cry, to shout and swear, and to plead for no more deaths.
On Tuesday night, an Arapahoe High School junior took his own life by jumping off a mall parking garage, and on Wednesday night, another Littleton School District student, an eighth-grader at Powell Middle School, shot himself on the grounds of nearby Twain Elementary. Both boys posted on social media just before their deaths, panicking friends who tried to help but could not save them.
More teenagers commit suicide on this day in Japan than any other day of the year
Going back to school is extremely tough for a lot of Japanese students, and this can be clearly seen in the country’s suicide statistics.
In Japan, more people under the age of 18 commit suicide on Sept. 1 than any other date, according to a 2015 government white paper examining 40 years of data. The government attributed the reason to the mental pressures that students face adjusting to school life after a particularly long break. The anxiety of teens going back to school is so pervasive that there’s a Japanese term to describe them: futoko, or “people who don’t go to school.”
The story behind Logic’s powerful suicide prevention anthem
At the VMAs on Sunday night, rapper Logic shared the stage with suicide attempt survivors as he offered an emotional performance of his anthem “1-800-273-8255,” named after the suicide prevention hotline.
The song, which features Alessia Cara and Khalid, begins from the perspective of someone calling the number — known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — and confessing that they “don’t want to be alive.”
Ultimately, the song delivers a message of hope — the second verse features the lyrics “You don’t gotta die, I want you to be alive,” told from the perspective of the person offering emotional support at the other end of the line.
The song’s final lyrics find the caller determined to keep fighting: “The lane I travel feels alone / but I’m moving ’til my legs give out / and I see my tears melt in the snow / but I don’t wanna cry / I don’t wanna cry anymore / I wanna feel alive / I don’t even wanna die anymore.” ‘1-800-273-8255’
After A Suicide, Sibling Survivors Are Often Overlooked
When Taylor Porco’s brother, Jordan, died by suicide during his freshman year of college in February 2011, people told her to be strong for her parents, who were incapacitated by their grief. Hardly anyone seemed to notice that Porco, only 14 at the time, was suffering and suicidal.
“I was really depressed and in such extreme pain. Nothing, literally, mattered to me after he died. All I wanted was my brother back. I never loved someone as much as I loved him,” she says.
Porco’s experience is hardly unique. Approximately 25,000 people each year become sibling survivors of suicide, according to the support group, Sibling Survivors of Suicide Loss. Those who lose a sibling to suicide at any age can experience anger, complicated grief reactions, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and thoughts of taking their own lives.
Quad-City documentary focuses on teen suicide, will be broadcast on TV
Mickle Communications of Davenport has created a prime-time special “If You Only Knew: The Journey Through Teen Depression and Suicide.”
“If You Only Knew” features families who have lost children to suicide, as well as a young woman who attempted suicide several times as a teenager then later found the help she needed. The original documentary first aired on WQPT in March 2016. It was nominated for a Mid-America Emmy, and is available on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon (free with Amazon Prime).
Guns Play Oversize Role in Rural Suicides
Suicide rates are higher in rural counties, according to a new study, and the reason is firearm use by men.
The report, in the American Journal of Public Health, used data on 6,196 suicides of Maryland residents over age 15. They found that the rate of firearm suicides was 66 percent higher in the most thinly populated counties than in metropolitan areas with populations greater than a million. Non-firearm suicide rates in rural and urban counties were roughly the same.
Preventing Teen Suicide: What the Evidence Shows
Rates of teen suicide continue to rise, federal health officials reported this month, with rates for girls higher than at any point in the last 40 years. A rational response would be to engage in evidence-based measures to try to reverse this course. Too often, we assume that there’s nothing we can do.
Sometimes, we even make things worse.
Suicide rates were even higher in the 1990s. But from 2007 to 2015 rates rose from 10.8 to 14.2 per 100,000 male teenagers and from 2.4 to 5.1 per 100,000 female teenagers. In 2011, for the first time in more than 20 years, more teenagers died from suicide than homicide.
But these trends have been known for years. Our response to them hasn’t adequately acknowledged their progression.
Precision Medicine for Preventing Suicide
Researchers developed personalized blood tests for different subtypes of suicidality that they have newly identified and for different psychiatric high-risk groups.
A research team led by scientists at the Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine say they have created a novel method for diagnosing suicide risk by developing blood tests that work in everyone as well as more personalized blood tests for different subtypes of suicidality and high-risk groups.
The researchers also demonstrated how two apps—one based on a suicide-risk checklist and the other on a scale for measuring feelings of anxiety and depression—work along with the blood tests to increase the precision of tests and to propose potential lifestyle, psychotherapeutic, and other interventions. The team also noted that they were able to identify a series of medications and natural substances that could be developed for preventing suicide.
Their study (“Precision Medicine for Suicidality: From Universality to Subtypes and Personalization”) is published in Molecular Psychiatry.
We sought to investigate whether blood gene expression biomarkers for suicide (that is, a ‘liquid biopsy’ approach) can be identified that are more universal in nature, working across psychiatric diagnoses and genders, using larger cohorts than in previous studies. Such markers may reflect and/or be a proxy for the core biology of suicide. We were successful in this endeavor, using a comprehensive stepwise approach, leading to a wealth of findings,” write the investigators.
Suicides under age 13: One every 5 days
One day after school in January, 8-year-old Gabriel Taye returned to his Cincinnati home and hanged himself with a necktie, his family’s attorney says.
His mother, Cornelia Reynolds, found his body that afternoon in his bedroom. His family sued his school district last week, alleging that he’d been bullied and that the school didn’t inform his relatives.
“Gabriel was a shining light to everyone who knew and loved him,” his mother said in prepared statement released to the news media. “We miss him desperately and suffer every day.”
Suicides among US children under 13 are rare, but perhaps more frequent than you think. And 8 is hardly the youngest.
From 1999 through 2015, 1,309 children ages 5 to 12 committed suicide in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Teen suicide: The ones they left behind
The memories of teenagers who died by suicide are closely guarded by those left behind.
The smiles and laughter, the shared experiences, the first days at school and the last hours spent together are beacons for families of children whose lives were cut short after ongoing struggles with mental illnesses including depression, anxiety or eating disorders.
There’s Heidi Bucklin, who died at 18, a competitive athlete whose seriousness on the field afterward melted into goofy grins with her friends.
There’s Zayne Shomler, who died at 17. He loved little things — watching ants march back to their colony, his turtle and the tiny stuffed lamb he kept close even until his death.
There’s Heather Brooker-Higgins, who died at 13. She loved to learn so much, she would spend hours studying Spanish on her school-issued tablet.
These are some of the teenagers who have died by suicide in Clark County, as long ago as six years and as recently as two months. It’s a constant and apparently escalating problem.
Girl Talk: Help is always available for those with thoughts of suicide
Anyone who has ever graced a public bathroom knows that after you lock the door and look around at the stall around you, chances are you are likely to encounter a vast array of graffiti.
Some classics still remain as they had in generations before us: For a good time call some random number; this person loves that person forever; and another person thinks someone else is a variety of expletives.
Sometimes there are quotes. The most profound bathroom quote I ever read was “Suicide doesn’t take away your pain; it just gives it to someone else.” I can say without a shadow of a doubt, this quote has saved my life.
According to USA Today, there is a suicide every 13 minutes in the United States. Behind every tragic loss there is a story. As someone who has openly coped with depression disorders my entire life, this is my story.
There is not a day that goes by in my life where I can say the thought isn’t there. I think with most people who have had a history with depression and suicide, they can honestly admit this. If something goes wrong, you automatically think about it. It’s not something I would act on, just a thought. If I am going to be honest about my story, I need to tell you my whole story.
Suicide Prevention: What To Do If You Think Someone Needs Help
According to the Vermont Department of Mental Health, the suicide rate in Vermont has increased over the past 10 years. In 2014, according to the department’s data, there were more than 17 suicides per 100,000 Vermonters. The New York Times reported that the national average that year was 13 suicides per 100,000 people.
JoEllen Tarallo is the director of the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center. She says that suicide can be reduced if more people know how to support friends and family members. She offered some advice for anyone who is concerned that someone they know might be suicidal.
Behind the suicide of a teen track star
“What Made Maddy Run?”
That’s the title question of a new book about a suburban New Jersey teen and track star, Madison Holleran, who committed suicide in 2014 during her freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania. The real question, though, is: What made Maddy stop?
Depression is a difficult problem to diagnose and treat, and there are probably many factors that led to this tragedy. But it is striking that, despite Maddy’s strong social network, as well as her success both academically and athletically, she felt a crushing pressure, one that’s becoming more and more common — for teenage girls, especially.
With the help of Maddy’s family, friends and teammates, who were shocked and baffled by this tragedy, espnW columnist Kate Fagan tries to recreate the last several months of her life not only through interviews with those who knew her but also by looking through all of her text messages, emails and social media posts.
Teens are more depressed and isolated than ever because of smartphones, researcher claims
Jean Twenge, a professor at San Diego State, argues in The Atlantic this week that smartphones may be destroying a generation of teens
Today’s teens go out less, date less, and feel more depressed and suicidal, according to Twenge’s data. There’s a strong link between the amount of time they spend looking at screens and how sad they feel.
Teenagers today are more depressed, have higher rates of suicide, and hang out with friends less often than teens in earlier eras, according to one researcher, who has blamed the rise of smartphones for the problem.
Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State, wrote in The Atlantic this week that she’s noticed a number of stark behavioral changes in teens since smartphones became popular. She argued that the rates of change are the sharpest she’s seen in researching data from the 1930s onward.
Among her findings:
- Teens go out a lot less with friends and on fewer dates.
- They are much less interested in driving.
- They report feeling lonely a lot more often.
- Rates of depression and suicide have “skyrocketed” since 2011.
The more time they spend looking at screens, the more depressed they say they feel – “There’s not a single exception” among any age group, Twenge writes.
Out of the darkness: Youth, officials open up about suicide
Zach Ricker was into sports, especially basketball, in high school. He was a good student, getting A’s and B’s. Corinne Johnson, a classmate of Ricker’s, characterized him as a nice, almost shy guy. He didn’t talk much, she said, and when he did, you almost always had to ask him, “What?”
Johnson was also active in sports. She played soccer and was a good student. She was outspoken in class and challenged her teachers with questions. She even received a student of the month award for standing up for a bullied peer. She worked to help support herself because she was raised by a single mother and had two siblings.
Ricker and Johnson both seemed like normal, happy teenagers.
No one knew they both wanted to kill themselves. Their loved ones didn’t know they were both suffering from clinical depression and anxiety.
Since the beginning of 2012, there have been 33 suicides involving people between the ages of 13 and 25, according to the Ohio Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. That includes 15 suicides in Allen County, eight in Putnam County, six in Auglaize County and four in Van Wert County.
Suicide rate hit 40-year peak among older teen girls
The suicide rate among girls between the ages of 15 and 19 reached an all-time high in 2015 for the 40-year period beginning in 1975, according to new data from the National Center for Health Statistics.
In the shorter term, the suicide rate for those girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, the research indicates.
By comparison, the 2015 suicide rate for boys in this age group was lower than in the peak years of the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s.
A father lost his son. Now he wants to convince society that no suicide is inevitable
Steve Mallen thinks the signs first started to show when his son stopped playing the piano. Edward, then 18, was a gifted musician and had long since passed his Grade 8 exams. Playing had been a passion for most of his life. But as adulthood beckoned, the boy had never been busier. He had won a place to read geography at the University of Cambridge and was revising hard for his A levels. At his school, Edward was head boy and popular among pupils and teachers. His younger brother and sister idolized him.
“We didn’t attach any particular significance to it,” says Mallen of what he saw as merely a musical pause. “I think we just thought, ‘Well, the poor lad’s been at the piano for years and years. He’s so busy…’ But these are the small things – the ripples in the fabric of normal life – that you don’t necessarily notice but which, as I know now, can be very significant.”
Three months after Edward stopped playing, and just two weeks after he handed in an English essay his teacher would later describe as among the best he had read, police knocked at the door of the family home in Meldreth, a village ten miles south of Cambridge. Steve Mallen was at home, alone. “You become painfully aware that something appalling has happened,” he recalls. “You go through the description, they offer commiserations and a booklet, and then they leave. And that’s it. Suddenly you are staring into the most appalling abyss you can ever imagine.”
Mother of Bullied Girl Who Died by Suicide: Mallory ‘Had a Target on Her Back’
Mallory was an accomplished cheerleader and gymnast who family and friends say was well-liked and sociable
The family of a 12-year-old New Jersey girl who took her own life in June is planning to sue the school district she attended, saying she was relentlessly bullied for months before a “preventable tragedy.”
The family announced Tuesday in Roseland, alongside with their attorney, that they’re suing the Rockaway Township school district because they say it did nothing to stop months of bullying that led to Mallory Grossman’s suicide.
East Helena elementary students begin game aimed at suicide prevention
“We’ve had too many suicides in East Helena of our kids. We believe that something can make a difference for kids,” Superintendent Ron Whitmoyer said. “This is a statistically proven program.”
Elementary students in East Helena will be part of an early education game to prevent suicide by reducing behavioral problems and mental health issues.
Blue Cross Blue Shield and American Chemet provided almost $17,000 in grant funding to train Kindergarten through third grade teachers on the PAXIS Institute Good Behavior Game last month. Teachers in Kindergarten through third grade will implement the program with a goal to develop coping skills for social, emotional and behavioral challenges that will last a lifetime.
In 2014, Montana had the highest rate of suicide in the nation and has been among the top five states for 40 years, according to a report by the Montana Suicide Mortality Review Team.