News Archive: April, May, June 2019

June 2019

Suicide Isn’t Just a Personal Issue

The U.S. has a long history of misunderstanding mental-health struggles.

It wasn’t all that long ago that many people wouldn’t say “cancer” in polite conversation. Because the disease was so deadly and so poorly understood, mentioning that someone had The Big C could seem to imply that the person had brought the misery of the disease on himself or herself.

Although that stigma persists in some ways—lung cancer, for example, is still culturally tied to tobacco use—things have gotten a lot better. People shave their heads in solidarity with loved ones going through chemo, and breast-cancer pink is the stuff of corporate-marketing legend.

Christine Moutier, the chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, hopes Americans’ understanding of suicide is on a similar path. “Cancer was shameful to think about or talk about, which shows you how much things really can change,” she told me in an interview at the Aspen Ideas Festival, co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic.

“Mental health is just now undergoing that period of growth and transition that’s informed by science, but the average person doesn’t really understand all that yet.”

The Atlantic, June 30, 2019

Suicide Rates Are Rising, But Nobody Really Knows Why

Suicide rates appear to be at all-time highs, with the latest research suggesting rates are one-third higher than they were in 1999.

Among people ages 16 through 64, the rate of suicide climbed from about 10 per 100,000 to 14 per 100,000 people. That’s a significant increase during a period of time where, by all outward measures, stigma about mental health issues and depression has been significantly decreasing. More than ever, it is safe and people are encouraged to talk about — and seek help for — a mental health concern.

So why this significant rise in the suicide rate?

Psych Central, June 27, 2019

Report: Adolescent suicide rate hits 20-year high

• Recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates the suicide rate for teens ages 15 to 19 is at its highest point in 20 years, and that suicide is now the second-leading cause of death for that age group, Education Week reports.

• The report, based on statistics from the Centers for Disease Control’s Underlying Cause of Death database, reveals the increase has mainly occurred between 2007 and 2017, reaching a rate of 11.8 suicides per 100,000 in 2017, with males more than three times more likely than females to commit suicide.

• The rise in the suicide rate is attributed to increased use of social media, anxiety and depression, though the report suggests more research is needed.

Though student suicides rarely happen at school, teen suicides are often related to events occurring there or with schoolmates. According to an article published in Psychology Today, student suicide rates increase during the school year.

Education Dive, June 21, 2019

How to help youth currently in suicide distress

A report from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention indicated a 30 percent increase in suicides in the U.S. between the years 2000 and 2016. While there are rising rates in all age groups, youth, between the ages of 15 and 24, are of particular concern; and the causes are likely complex. Increases in social media use, anxiety, depression, as well as the opioid epidemic are all potential and interweaving contributors. While researchers work to better identify which risk factors are contributing most to the uptick, we need to help the youth currently in suicide distress.

Suicide prevention is a national public health priority. Though there are evidence-based interventions for reducing suicidal ideation and preventing attempts, most people who have thoughts of suicide are not engaged in mental health services.

The Hill, June 20, 2019

US suicide rate at its highest since the end of the second world war

The rate of suicide in the US is rising, and has reached its highest point since the end of the second world war. According to a report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US suicide rate increased by 33 per cent between 1999 and 2017. This is calculated using age-adjusted rates that take into account age distributions across states and years.

In 1999, there were 10.5 suicides per 100,000 people, while in 2017 there were 14 per 100,000.

The CDC’s statistics show that, in recent years, there has been a marked increase in suicide among US people aged 15 to 24 and those aged 25 to 34, although the highest rates remain among those who are middle-aged. The report finds that for men and women aged 45-64, the suicide rate was highest among people who are white.

New Scientist, June 20, 2019

Suicide Rates Among Young Americans Have Hit Their Highest Levels in Almost 20 Years

Suicide rates among young people in the U.S. have hit their highest levels in almost two decades, a study has revealed.

In 2017, a total of 6,241 people aged between 15 to 24 ended their lives, according to a study published in the journal JAMA. Of those, 5,016 were male and 1,225 were female.

That year, the suicide rate for teenagers aged between 15 to 19 was 11.8 percent 100,000, versus 8 per 100,000 in 2000.

Figures on those aged between 20 to 24 showed rates had gone up from 12.5 per 100,000 in 2000 to 17 per 100,000 in 2017.

The figures came from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent Underlying Cause of Death database, which comes from information on death certificates and estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau.

Newsweek, June 18, 2019

Suicides soar among teenagers, Harvard study says

Growing numbers of young Americans are taking their own lives, with particularly steep increases in the past few years, according to an analysis published Tuesday that provides a detailed portrait of a troubling phenomenon.

The study by Harvard Medical School researchers shows that from 2000 to 2017, the suicide rate rose by 47 percent among teens age 15 to 19 and 36 percent among those 20 to 24. That’s well above the 30 percent increase seen across all age groups.

Although the trend of soaring youth suicides is well known, the report provides the first breakdown of this group by age and sex over several years. And it reveals a recent, abrupt spike.

“People may assume the suicide increase is this very constant thing that just gradually goes up,” said Oren Miron, a research associate in biomedical informatics at Harvard Medical School and lead author of the study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Boston Globe, June 18, 2019

Former Representative Patrick Kennedy and Robert Gebbia on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

Former Representative Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) and Robert Gebbia, CEO of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, talked about mental health awareness and suicide prevention.

C-SPAN, June 10, 2019

Lady Gaga Announces Expansion of Teen Mental Health Program

Singer announced the Born This Way Foundation’s latest endeavor onstage in Las Vegas.

On Wednesday, Lady Gaga announced that her Born This Way Foundation and the National Council for Behavioral Health will expand the peer-to-peer mental health program, teen Mental Health First Aid (tMHFA), to 20 additional high schools across the U.S. starting in the fall.

At one of her Las Vegas residency shows, Gaga brought 16 students from eight schools onstage who had just completed their first tMHFA pilot.

“With teen Mental Health First Aid, we like to say, it’s okay to not be okay,” Gaga said onstage. “Sometimes when life gives you a million reasons to not want to stay, you need just one person that looks at you, listens to you, helps you get help and validates how you feel. Together, Born This Way and the National Council have put this program in eight schools and soon it will be in 20 more. I know for certain that I’m not stopping here. I want the teen Mental Health First Aid program in every school in this country.”

Rolling Stone, June 12, 2019

U.S. death rates from suicides, alcohol and drug overdoses reach all-time high

West Virginia and Ohio far outpace other states in drug overdose death rates.

Rates of deaths from suicides, drug overdoses and alcohol have reached an all-time high in the United States, but some states have been hit far harder than others, according to a report released Wednesday by the Commonwealth Fund.

The report examined data in all 50 states and Washington, D.C., taking an in-depth look at 47 factors that have an impact on health outcomes, including insurance coverage, access to doctors, obesity, smoking, even tooth loss, and ultimately assigning each state a score. The data are from 2017.

Although the rates of the so-called deaths of despair are up nationally, the report’s investigators were particularly struck by regional differences in the rates.

NBC News, June 12, 2019

LGBTQ+ Youth Prefer to Seek Mental Health Help Digitally

The kids are not all right. Almost 40 percent of young people between the ages of 13 and 24 who identify as LGBTQ+ have seriously considered suicide in the last year. That number is even higher for transgender and gender-nonbinary youth, 54 percent of whom have seriously considered suicide in that same time frame, and 29 percent of whom have attempted it. That’s according to a new groundbreaking report from the LGBTQ+ advocacy nonprofit the Trevor Project, which polled more than 34,000 young people in 2018 to compile the largest ever survey on LGBTQ+ youth mental health in America.

The thousands of young people involved tell a familiar yet urgent story: LGBTQ+ youth are particularly vulnerable to mental health crises and suicide, and society hasn’t found enough ways to assist them. Even as acceptance for queer people is seemingly on the rise, social conditions are leading to dire mental health outcomes.

Wired, June 11, 2019

More Millennials Are Dying ‘Deaths of Despair,’ as Overdose and Suicide Rates Climb

There’s been a marked uptick in so-called deaths of despair—those involving drugs, alcohol or suicide—among millennials over the last decade, according to a new report released by public-health groups Trust for America’s Health and Well Being Trust.

Drug, alcohol and suicide deaths have risen in nearly every age group over the last decade, but the increase has been especially pronounced for younger Americans. Between 2007 and 2017, drug-related deaths increased by 108% among adults ages 18 to 34, while alcohol-related deaths increased by 69% and suicides increased by 35%, according to the report, which drew on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data. All together, about 36,000 millennials died “deaths of despair” in 2017, with fatal drug overdoses being the biggest driver.

TIME, June 13, 2019

The Second National Rally to Prevent Suicide on the Steps of the U.S. Capitol

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States and it is preventable.

With 129 Americans dying by suicide every day, and the suicide cost to America estimated to be $93.5 billion each year (Shepard et al, SLTB, 2016), the National Council for Suicide Prevention (NCSP) along with several leading national health and veterans organizations plan to stand with an estimated 1,000 citizens and youth calling for Congress and the President to make suicide prevention a public health priority.

Members of Congress, mental health and suicide prevention experts, veterans, survivors and those with lived experience will be speaking at the Rally emceed by The Food Network’s Melissa d’Arabian.

“It’s not acceptable that we are losing over 47,000 lives a year to suicide in this country,” said Dr. Dan Reidenberg, Managing Director, NCSP. 

Yahoo, June 11, 2019

Family demands ride-share changes after girl’s downtown Orlando suicide: ‘Uber took my daughter past the point of no return’

(Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel)

Ronald Diamond reached up and clutched the pink stone hanging on a black cord around his neck as his daughter’s mother spoke at a press conference Thursday afternoon.

Inside the stone, and a blue one the girl’s mother wore, were the ashes of their 12-year-old daughter, Benita “BB” Diamond.

“That’s all I have left of her, unfortunately,” Lisha Chen said through tears.

In January, while her mother was asleep, 12-year-old Benita “BB” Diamond downloaded the Uber app and requested a trip to downtown Orlando, where she climbed to the top floor of the City Commons Parking Garage and jumped to her death, according to her family.

Benita’s family hired attorney Laura Douglas of NeJame Law to represent them. At Thursday’s press conference in Lake Nona, they demanded changes to the way the Uber and other ride-share companies enforce the usage of their services by minors. They have not filed a lawsuit but would not rule out doing so in the future.

Orlando Sentinel, June 6, 2019

Seattle high school’s suicide prevention team helps save lives

Teens at a Roosevelt High School in Seattle are trying to erase the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Alongside sports, band, chess club, and debate, teens at a Seattle high school are carving out time to erase some of the stigma surrounding mental illness. The Roosevelt High School Suicide Prevention Team keeps growing, and they say their work is saving lives.

Before the bell rings, a few dozen students gather to talk about highs and lows. “My low is that I procrastinated all night and I was up till 2,” one student told the group. “My low is that I really didn’t realize that senior finals are next week,” said another.

Everyone at the table grapples with something.

“Today is seven years since my friend died from suicide,” said Amanda Schwartz, the school nurse. “And my high is that I get to spend it with you guys and planning the cool things that we’re doing.”

K5News, June 4, 2019

‘Take Me Seriously!’: How Atlanta Teens Feel When Their Mental Health Is Deflected

Even though the number of students with mental illness is on the rise — the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports “approximately 1 in 5 youths aged 13-18 (21.4 percent) experiences a severe mental disorder at some point during their life” — many teens could give you a story of times they’ve encountered advice that minimizes or ignores their reality.

Phrases such as “walk it off” and even “just drink water” are a few examples of what has been used to deflect problems and have caused unnecessary obstacles for teens’ mental health care.

In fact, NAMI has even found, “Just over half (50.6 percent) of children with a mental health condition aged 8-15 received mental health services in the previous year.”

The number — one-half — is scarily low for the number of children who receive treatment, especially considering that suicide is the third-leading cause of death among youths ages 10-24.

WABE, NPR Atlanta, June 5, 2019

Young Girls’ Suicide Rate Shows Unprecedented Growth

Although historically more boys than girls die by suicide, the gender gap in youth suicide is shrinking, according to a new study in JAMA Network Open.

“Overall, we found a disproportionate increase in female youth suicide rates compared to males, resulting in a narrowing of the gap between male and female suicide rates,” said study lead author Donna Ruch, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio.

Dr. Ruch and colleagues investigated youth suicide trends in the United States between 1975 and 2016. The study included 85,051 suicide deaths of youth age 10 through 19.

Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Learning Network, June 6, 2019

Campus Public Safety Officers’ Vital Role in Student Suicide Prevention

Here’s how school and university public safety officers can identify when a student is considering suicide and the question they can ask that can save lives.

In some cases, public safety officers, security officers and SROs — both on K-12 campuses and college campuses — probably have a better opportunity than faculty and administrators to detect students who may be at risk of suicide.

Very often officers get to know students over a longer period of time than a teacher or a professor. This means they have a better opportunity to look for warning signs and risk factors in those students, whether it be that they notice a student looks like they’re not sleeping well or other signs of stress. It could be that their clothing is more disheveled than usual, or they just seem to be stressed out and exhausted.

A public safety officer, SRO or security officer can ask a student, “Is something going on?” and specifically ask the question, “Are you thinking of dying by suicide?” Oftentimes people are hesitant to actually come out and ask the question because some people still believe the myth that if you ask about suicide, you are planting something in someone’s mind. We know that that just isn’t true.

Campus Safety, June 4, 2019

More NJ preteens attempting suicide with pills in the cabinet

It’s a disturbing public health trend that keeps getting worse.

A growing number of preteens in the Garden State, ages 9 to 12 are attempting to take their lives by swallowing large amounts of whatever medication they can get their hands on.

New Jersey Poison Control Center data shows there have been 31 confirmed suicide attempts through the abuse of medication by preteens so far this year, while there were 70 confirmed cases in 2018.

Before that, 55 preteens in Jersey attempted to take their own lives using poison in 2017, and there were 44 confirmed cases in 2016.

New Jersey law does not require hospitals and healthcare facilities to report drug overdoses to the Poison Control Center, so these totals are likely on the low side.

New Jersey 101.5, June 2, 2019

As teen suicide rates rise, brain imaging is starting to answer questions of why

In the note Aaron Williams wrote before dousing himself with gasoline, he explained that he’d wanted to become a doctor when he grew up. To help people.

Instead, the 16-year-old printed in stiff black letters, “I cant even help myself.”

He hoped that his high school’s faculty would realize kids like him “have feelings like I do right now.” Aaron himself couldn’t understand what he was feeling, or how he’d come to this moment.

He pulled onto the busy campus of his school, Academic Magnet High in North Charleston, and parked. Then, he lit himself on fire.

His autopsy report arrived at his Mount Pleasant home in an envelope. His father, Trace, read it right away. His mother could not bear to until months later.

Yet, it contained answers to why such a sweet and docile boy would end his life in this fashion.

Aaron Williams died by suicide in 2010. Later, his autopsy showed multiple lesions on his amygdala, an area of the brain involved with processing emotions.

Aaron had multiple lesions in his amygdala, structures in the brain’s limbic system that play critical roles in processing emotions — notably anxiety and fear. 

The Post and Courier, June 2, 2019

May 2019

100 New Jersey preteens have attempted suicide by poisoning since 2018

One hundred New Jersey children under age 13 have attempted suicide by intentional drug overdose since January 2018, the state’s poison control center reported this week.

The majority of cases involved 12-year-olds, but some children trying to take their lives were as young as 9.

“Suicide in young preteens is becoming more and more common, signaling a real public health threat for our state,” said Diane Calello, executive and medical director of the New Jersey Poison Control Center.

Ten years ago, the number of preteens attempting suicide by poisoning in New Jersey was in the 20s. Last year, that number climbed to 70. The center is on pace to see a further increase this year, Calello said.

And those numbers likely undercount the problem, she added, since New Jersey law doesn’t require hospitals and other health-care facilities to report drug overdoses to the poison center.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 31, 2019

A teen with autism attempted suicide after bullies told her to ‘die.’ Her family is suing the school.

“You should die.”

“Dig a hole and bury yourself.”

Die of cancer, die in a fiery crash. Her mother was a fool to love her.

A 14-year-old Franklin, Ind., girl with special needs was barraged with these insults by her fellow students, leading her to attempt suicide twice. And the school district did nothing to remedy the problem, according to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana this month.

The plaintiffs, known as R.N. and her mother and stepfather, both named as R.T. in court documents, are suing the Franklin Community School Corp. in an attempt to hold them accountable and push for changes within the system.

The Washington Post, May 30, 2019

Pediatricians don’t always get adequate suicide-prevention training

Although experts supervising new pediatricians and teaching trainee doctors agree that preventing child and teen suicide is important, most also say current training isn’t adequate, according to a new U.S. study.

The training isn’t always mandatory, for instance, and it isn’t standardized, the study authors write in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

“Pediatric providers play a crucial role in detecting suicide risk and appropriately referring those in need,” said senior study author Rebecca Bernert, director of the Suicide Prevention Research Laboratory at the Stanford University School of Medicine in California.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among youth, who attempt suicide at disproportional rates compared to other age groups, Bernert added. The Joint Commission and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend consistent screening, but little is known about the quality of training.

KFGO, May 30, 2019

Instagram Co-Launches Mental Health Awareness Campaign

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Instagram have partnered up to start #RealConvos about mental health. A new public awareness campaign is working to shed light on the conversation about mental health.

According to the Washington Post, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Instagram have teamed up for the campaign in hopes that it will lead to more conversation around the topic.

The idea is that Instagram users will tag content with #RealConvo when a post discusses mental health.

The Fix, May 29, 2019

Another study finds teen suicide rates rose just after 13 Reasons Why debut: Deaths increased more than expected between April and June 2017

After the release of the controversial Netflix show 13 Reasons Why, scientists found a 13.3 percent increase in teenagers’ deaths from suicide. This is the second study released this month that found a rise in youth suicides around the time the show premiered. Mental health researchers are, as a result, more concerned than ever about how suicide is portrayed in the media — because suicide can be “contagious.”

About 94 more kids ages 10 to 19 died than expected during the period of this study, which was published this week in JAMA Psychiatry. Because there’s no way to tell whether the people who died by suicide during this time actually watched the show, the study “does not provide definitive proof” that 13 Reasons Why, which focuses on a teenage girl’s death by suicide, “is associated with harmful outcomes,” the authors note in the paper. They did, however, find the increase in death “concerning.”

The Verge, May 29, 2019

Mother uses daughter’s death to warn parents of suicide assistance websites

A grieving York County mother is using her heartache to warn other parents of the dangers that lurk on the internet. Jacqueline Bieber’s daughter took her own life last week and says she found a disturbing website on her daughter’s phone.

“I want parents to know and talk with their kids,” said Bieber. “I don’t want anyone to pull this up like my daughter did and think this is the only way.”

As she clenched a birthday gift from her daughter, Bieber is warning parents of websites and forums telling people different ways they can die by suicide.

“I never ever knew that there was anything so accessible to anybody like this,” said Bieber.

Bieber found her daughter, Shawn Shatto, laying on her bedroom floor. She was cold to the touch. Bieber tried to perform CPR but knew it was too late. At first, she didn’t think Shatto took her own life but later that day her phone revealed disturbing posts from a website.

“They were cheering her on to the finish line of a suicide,” said Elizabeth Hoffman, Shatto’s aunt.

Fox43, May 28, 2019

What to Do If You See Someone Posting Thoughts of Suicide Online

When one social media group manager read posts from a member who was thinking about taking their own life, she turned to experts for advice. Here’s what they told her.

“I feel depressed, alone, hopeless, and suicidal. I honestly don’t know what to do.”

Those words stared back at me from my screen, speaking to a crisis I didn’t know how to handle. They were written by one of the 2,000 members of a closed social media group I manage — someone I didn’t know personally, and wasn’t sure how to help.

The message hit me hard.

I lost a friend to suicide in 2016. He was one of 45,000 lives lost to suicide that same year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

I’d been talking to him the night it happened, texting less than an hour before he was gone. And I’d been clueless. Completely oblivious to how much pain he was in. Three years later, thinking about his death still makes me feel like I’m drowning.

So, seeing that post on a page I was responsible for, seeing the mention of that word that still makes me feel so helpless, sent me into a panic.

I wasn’t sure how to respond, though I did my best. Yet, I ultimately felt I didn’t do as good of a job as I could have.

Healthline, May 24, 2019

Suicide-prevention bills try to shield youth from trauma

A Senate suicide-prevention bill named for Adi Staub, a transgender student who died by suicide, was approved by the House and should be signed by the governor.

‘Our schools have become the de facto social service providers of our communities, yet we hadn’t really been funding them that way.’

Legislation intended to prevent youth suicides is set to become law.

Adi’s Act — Senate Bill 52 — requires school districts to plan how to address and prevent suicides among students. The legislation is backed by the family of Adi Staub, a transgender student at Grant High School in Portland who died by suicide in 2017.

“I think that it’s just one part of a much larger societal need, which is to make sure that every kid, no matter how they identify or who they love, sees hope for the future,” Lon Staub, Adi’s father, told Oregon Capital Bureau.

Parkland Tribune, May 27, 2019

Human Writes: Suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people today

Imagine if someone asks you, in all seriousness, “Should I choose death or life?” I’m sure you’d answer: “Choose life!” Who the heck would be moronic enough to answer death? Unfortunately, some people did. When a 16-year-old girl in Kuching who was contemplating suicide put up an Instagram poll asking that question last week, almost 70% of respondents voted for death. And, apparently, that triggered her choice to kill herself.

The story hit headlines all over the world – once again, we’re in the news for the wrong reasons! In London, the incident was raised in the British Parliament to Instagram chiefs, there for an inquiry on addictive technologies.

There was talk of charging those who voted for her death with abetting suicide.

Star2, May 26, 2019

At 10, I wrote a suicide note. Today, I have an urgent message for that troubled little girl — and others like her.

At 10, I sat down in my teddy bear chair that was getting a little too small for me, and I wondered what I had done to make my daddy hate me. I thought he must hate me because he threatened my life. Just the night before, I’d heard him say he might turn on the gas to our house, and he said it would be better if we all were to die. But I didn’t want to die! Not then, anyway.

The rest of fourth grade did not get better. After months of begging my daddy to live, I finally lost the battle I waged to save his life. My daddy shot himself to death on traditional Memorial Day in 1989. It was the beginning of my 10th summer and the abrupt end to my childhood.

The Washington Post, May 25, 2019

Talking to teens about suicide

It is a devastating thing to hear about a teenager completing suicide, even more so for the family and friends involved. This type of tragedy can have an impact on an entire community.

Teens who hear about or know someone close to their age who has completed suicide may struggle processing these types of painful events. Having a parent who can respond to the child with information and support can make a big difference for the teen.

Suicide among teens is a growing concern. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for teens in the U.S. and the second leading cause of death for teens in Idaho. The Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide reports 17.7 percent of high school students nationally admit to thinking about suicide and 9 percent report attempting suicide.

Idaho State Journal, May 24, 2019

‘Don’t give up’: Dad posts suicide prevention signs around daughters’ elementary school

When Colby Wallace thinks about the suicide statistics, especially those focused around young people, he can’t help but get upset. That’s why he’s trying to do something about it.

“Be the change you want to see,” Wallace told CNN affiliate KCPQ.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the state of Washington for people 10 to 24 years old, according to the Washington State Department of Health. It’s the third leading cause of death nationally.

A new study shows suicide rates in girls are rising, especially for people 10 to 14 years old.

KETV, May 24, 2019

Opioid Users’ Kids May Be At Higher Suicide Risk

Children of parents who use opioids have more than double the risk of attempted suicide, a new study finds.

Researchers noted that along with a dramatic rise in suicides among young people in the United States in the past 15 years, opioid use among adults has spiked. This study suggests a possible link between the two.

“We theorized such a link was plausible because parental substance abuse is a known risk factor for suicide attempts by their children,” said senior author Robert Gibbons. He directs the Center for Health Statistics at the University of Chicago.

“In addition, depression and suicide attempts by parents–which are known to be related to suicidal behavior in their offspring–are more common among adults who abuse opioids,” Gibbons explained in a university news release.

WebMD, May 22, 2019

See Billie Eilish Advocate for Mental Health in New ‘Seize the Awkward’ PSA

“It doesn’t make you weak to ask for help,” singer says.

Billie Eilish discusses her mental health journey and the importance of reaching out to others for help and offering help as well in a new PSA video for ‘Seize the Awkward‘ in partnership with the Ad Council. The campaign encourages people to check in with their friends who might be struggling and open a line of communication.

Rolling Stone, May 22, 2019

Teen suicide and mental health: America’s deadly, costly problems that have no end in sight

The nation’s medical system falls far short of meeting the demand for teen mental health services because cases of suicide and psychiatric disorders are skyrocketing, underscoring a public health crisis that is already costing Americans billions to combat.
Research from federal regulators and medical groups shows the suicide rate for young people ages 10 to 19 rose by 56% from 2007 to 2016, the latest year for which figures are available. Only 40% of young people with major depression got treatment, according to the National Institute for Mental Health.

Severe depression is a common precursor to suicide, which kills thousands of children and teenagers a year in the USA. Suicides and suicide attempts cost the nation  about $70 billion a year in lifetime costs for medical care and lost work hours.

USA Today, May 20, 2019

Suicide Rate For Girls Has Been Rising Faster Than For Boys, Study Finds

The number of people dying by suicide in the U.S. has been rising, and a new study shows that the suicide rate among girls ages 10 to 14 has been increasing faster than it has for boys of the same age.

Boys are still more likely to take their own lives. But the study published Friday in JAMA Network Open finds that girls are steadily narrowing that gap.

Researchers examined more than 85,000 youth suicides that occurred between 1975 and 2016. Donna Ruch, a researcher at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, who worked on the study, tells NPR that a major shift occurred after 2007.

Researchers found the increase was highest for girls ages 10 to 14, rising by nearly 13% since 2007. While for boys of the same age, it rose by 7%.

“That’s where we saw the most significant narrowing of the gender gap,” Ruch says.

NPR, May 17, 2019

New documentary puts a youthful face on suicide and mental health; aim is to combat stigma

A new documentary that gives voice to and puts a face on the child and teen mental health crisis goes live online Thursday at 7:30 CT when it airs on Milwaukee’s PBS station.

“You’re Not Alone,” which follows four young people from Wisconsin as they navigate mental health challenges, is a collaboration between USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin and Milwaukee PBS. The young people are fully identified and interviewed in the documentary.

The young people featured have experienced problems including suicidal thinking, post-traumatic stress disorder, bullying and childhood sexual abuse. They first told their stories at one of the more than 30 town halls and community events the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel has held on the topic of youth mental health as part of its Kid in Crisis series.

Jim Fitzhenry, vice president of news for USA TODAY Network/Central Wisconsin, says the journalists “went through the pros and cons of doing this and sharing this” with the young people identified.

“People have been really brave and it’s been cathartic for them to do it,” says Fitzhenry. “It’s extremely powerful and it’s healing for people.”

USA Today, May 16, 2019

Social media, self-harm and suicide. How can parents help kids help a friend?

“Mom, I need to show you something,” my daughter said to me, holding out her phone.

The post she showed me — which originated with a student that she knew “a little” then flew among friends and across the ether of the Internet — was about self-harm.

Suicide and self-harm are on the rise, especially among tweens and younger teens. Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10- to 24-year-olds, and since 2009, the number of 10- to 14-year-old girls receiving emergency care for self-inflicted injuries has climbed 18.8 percent per year. Meanwhile, smartphone and social media use among teens has exploded, and kids are using technology to share thoughts of self-harm and suicide. Tweens and young teens are reading social media posts and receiving texts from friends who may be struggling, and they don’t know how to help.

The Washington Post, May 15, 2019

A teen in Malaysia reportedly killed herself after posting a poll that asked her Instagram followers to help her choose life or death

A 16-year-old girl in Malaysia died by suicide after sharing an Instagram poll asking her followers to help her choose life or death, The Guardian reported on Wednesday, citing local authorities.

According to The Guardian and Malay Mail, the police said that the teen posted the poll at about 3 p.m. on Monday with the message “Really Important, Help Me Choose D/L” and that 69% of the respondents voted for “D,” meaning death. About five hours later, she was found dead, Malay Mail reported.

Local officials have questioned whether the people who voted in the poll could be culpable in her death. Abetting the suicide of a minor is a crime in Malaysia, and those found guilty can face the death penalty or up to 20 years in prison, Reuters reported.

Business Insider, May 16, 2019

The global suicide rate is growing – what can we do?

We are living in a time of urgency: suicide is a global, leading cause of death with a staggering loss of 800,000 lives each year.

Suicide cuts across high- and low-income countries, with lower and middle-income countries bearing the largest burden (80% of all suicides) but with it continuing to be a serious problem in high-income countries as well.

In recent years, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations have adopted actions plans focused on mental health and suicide prevention, and have set goals to reduce the rate of suicide by varying degrees: 10% by 2020 in the case of WHO, and 33% by 2030 in the case of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Presently, 40 countries have enacted national strategies to prevent suicide, several of which are proving effective, with reductions in suicide rates in many countries such as China, Denmark, England, Switzerland, the Philippines and South Korea. Though the absolute number of suicides globally continues to increase, a recent study accounting for population growth, found the global rate of suicide has dropped by 32.7% over the past 27 years.

Christine Moutier, Chief Medical Officer, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and Patrick J. Kennedy, Founder, The Kennedy Forum

World Economic Forum, May 15, 2019

Borough of Chatham Resolution honors Bob and Valerie Opp

Bob and Valerie Olpp were proud to accept this Resolution from the Borough of Chatham at the Council Meeting held May 13, 2019 recognizing May 2019 as Mental Health Awareness Month.

We continue our commitment to raise awareness regarding mental health conditions, remove the stigmas associated with suicide, raise valuable funds for important research, and education the community that mental health is just as important as physical health.

Borough of Chatham Resolution honoring Bob and Valerie Olpp

City life damages mental health in ways we’re just starting to understand.

Urban dwellers are particularly at risk from the impacts of air pollution and other hazards on mental health. Cities are vibrant, stimulating places, but their residents live with mental illnesses at higher rates than the general population.

We’ve long known that the environments we live and work in impact our physical health—and that we can be harmed by things we may not even realize we’re being exposed to, like lead or air pollution.

It’s also not a new idea that our physical surroundings may weigh on our mental health as well. Back in the 1930s, two sociologists noticed a striking pattern amongst the people being admitted to Chicago’s asylums. Rates of schizophrenia, they reported, were unusually high in those born to inner-city neighborhoods.

Since then, researchers have discovered that mental illnesses of all kinds are more common in densely populated cities than in greener and more rural areas. In fact, the Centre for Urban Design and Mental Health estimates that city dwellers face a nearly 40 percent higher risk of depression, 20 percent higher chance of anxiety, and double the risk of schizophrenia than people living in rural areas.

Popular Science, May 13, 2019

Google, Trevor Project will use AI to combat LGBTQ youth suicide

The Trevor Project won a $1.5 million Google AI Impact grant, which will allow the nonprofit to use artificial intelligence in its suicide prevention services.

Google and New York-based nonprofit The Trevor Project are joining forces to use artificial intelligence in order to help LGBTQ youth in crisis.

The technology giant awarded The Trevor Project with a $1.5 million Google AI Impact grant, which will let the nonprofit incorporate Google’s artificial intelligence tools into its suicide prevention services.

“The Trevor Project saves lives by supporting at-risk LGBTQ youth via phone, text, and chat,” the Google Impact website states. “Using natural language processing and sentiment analysis, counselors will be able to determine a LGBTQ youth’s suicide risk level, and better tailor services for individuals seeking help.”

The Trevor Project was one of the 20 groups selected from more than 2,600 applicants for the Google AI Impact Challenge, which was an open call for proposals to use AI to “address social issues,” according to a press release. The Trevor Project’s proposal was to create a system that could better and more quickly serve the 1.5 million LGBTQ youth who experience some sort of suicidal ideation or crisis each year.

NBC News, May 8, 2019

What to Say (and Not to Say) to Someone Grieving a Suicide

Suicide can leave the survivors with anger, confusion and guilt, and even well-intentioned words can cause pain.

It can be hard to know what to say to a person in the thicket of grief; when someone is grieving a loved one’s suicide, the right words — any words, even — can feel all the more elusive and fraught. Suicide can leave survivors racked with anger, confusion and guilt, and in this state, sometimes even well-intentioned words can hurt.

I reached out to Debbie Posnien, executive director of the Suicide Prevention Network based in Minden, Nev., for advice. “Don’t say ‘I understand what you’re going through.’ Unless you truly do,” she said.

This resonated deeply. A few days after my mother took her life in 2009, my husband shuttled me and our newborn to our first postpartum/postnatal checkup. I was still reeling from the news of my mom’s suicide; she had died when the baby was 1 week old. I wasn’t sleeping; I could barely speak; it was hard to convince myself to leave the house for the checkup — every nerve in my body was on edge, braced for the next disaster.

The New York Times, May 8, 2019

Instagram And American Foundation For Suicide Prevention Partner On #RealConvo Mental Health Campaign

This month is Mental Health Awareness Month and Instagram has partnered with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) on a public awareness campaign called #RealConvo. The campaign is aiming to inspire people to share their personal mental health experiences and help people find support communities online and offline. On May 9, AFSP and Instagram are also partnering with SELF and Teen Vogue for a live panel that will take place at Instagram’s New York City office.

When the campaign kicked off earlier this week the @AFSPnationalInstagram channel posted a dedicated “grid takeover” on its account — which featured video stories of 9 people using their voices to help empower others to be themselves on social media and speak candidly about their mental health. Each of those individuals took a stand against the concept that social media is only for posting the perfect highlights. The campaign encourages users to share the ups and downs in life.

Pulse 2.0, May 7, 2019

How nurses can play an important role in preventing youth suicides

Suicide is now the second leading cause of death among Americans age 10 to 34. Nationwide, emergency department visits for suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts doubled among youth between 2007 and 2015, according to JAMA Network. The median age of these patients – 13 – was younger than might be expected.

Nurses are in a unique position to help, according to Because they’re so directly involved in patient care, they can pick up on cues that can be reported and acted upon by nurses and other members of the healthcare team.

“Somebody dies from suicide every 40 seconds. It’s a community problem,” said Dr. Laura Shannonhouse, assistant professor in the department of counseling and psychological services at Georgia State University. Nurses can help prevent suicides through intervention training, she added. Shannonhouse recommended ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), which is used by many healthcare providers. It enables nurses and others to build a safety framework for people who are thinking about or planning suicide. ASIST provides a clear model and is a tool that can be used to promote hope.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, May 6, 2019

Why it’s so hard to prove that 13 Reasons Why caused an increase in suicide

A new study links 13 Reasons Why to a major spike in the youth suicide rate. Experts say that link is complicated, though.

13 Reasons Why, Netflix’s controversial show about teen suicide, has been hit with a new wave of bad press.

Since before the show premiered, experts have warned that its premise, which revolves around the suicide of a 16-year-old girl and depicts it in graphic detail, could lead to an increase in teen suicide attempts. Now a new study suggests that the theoretical increase may have come to pass. The study’s authors say they have found an association between the release of 13 Reasons Why and a nearly 30 percent jump in suicide rates among US youths.

On social media, people have been quick to herald the study as proof that 13 Reasons Why is just as dangerous as experts have feared. But it’s a little more complicated than it seems.

The study, which lists Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Jeff Bridge as its lead author, was conducted by multiple institutions, including the National Institute of Mental Health, and published April 29 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. And while the association it finds is fairly damning, it does not definitively establish a causal link between 13 Reasons Why and the rise in suicide rates.

So when I talked to academics about the study, all of them said that they continue to be wary of shows like 13 Reasons Why — but they also said the study is nowhere near proof that 13 Reasons Why is actually responsible for the death of teenagers. And in part that’s because, regardless of whether such a relationship might exist, it’s nearly impossible to prove.

Vox, May 3, 2019

Suicide attempts by self-poisoning more than double in teens and young adults

The number of adolescents and young adults attempting suicide by self-poisoning such as intentional drug overdoses has more than doubled in the last decade — an increase largely driven by young women, a new study found.

The research, published this week in the Journal of Pediatrics, adds to an array of troubling statistics about escalating suicidal behavior among youth.
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Researchers from Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Central Ohio Poison Center gathered data from poison control centers around the country that offer medical advice 24 hours a day through the Poison Help Line. They focused on cases of self-poisoning in children and young adults ages 10 to 24 between 2000 and 2018. They did not include accidental overdoses from recreational drug use, instead focusing specifically on suspected suicide attempts.

They found the rate of suicide attempts by self-poisoning rose 141 percent between 2010 and 2018. Previous studies have shown the number of teens going to the emergency room with suicidal thoughts jumped during that time too.

The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 2, 2019

The #RealConvo Campaign Wants to Make Instagram a More Honest Place

When it comes to mental health, social media can be a complicated thing. Some studies have shown that social media can have a negative influence on mental health, creating envy, increasing anxiety, and fostering poor body image. This may be at least in part because we’re seeing highly curated moments of other peoples lives that make our own lives seem just not up to par. Whether it’s comparing our bodies to others online, or seeing the seemingly amazing experiences others are having, the cherry-picked moments posted to social media can make it seem like everyone else’s lives are perfect, while ours are just average.

But this Mental Health Awareness Month, Instagram is partnering with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention to imagine an online world in which we were all just a little more honest about what’s happening behind the scenes. With their campaign #RealConvo, these organizations are encouraging people to be more open and honest about everything on social media, particularly their mental health.

“Social media mimics real life. We should be having more authentic conversations about mental health in real life and on social media because real connection is one of the things that protects people from suicide risk,” Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, told Teen Vogue.

Teen Vogue, May 2, 2019

April 2019

In Month After ‘13 Reasons Why’ Debut on Netflix, Study Finds Teen Suicide Grew

The TV series is linked to a troubling jump in suicide rates among boys the month after its premiere.

Ever since its premiere, on March 31, 2017, the Netflix series “13 Reasons Why,” about a teenage girl’s suicide, has alarmed many health experts, who believe it glamorizes the topic for some young people. The show also has impressed critics, along with viewers young and old, who see it as an honest portrayal of adolescent distress.

Now, a new study finds that suicide rates spiked in the month after the release of the series among boys aged 10 to 17. That month, April 2017, had the highest overall suicide rate for this age group in the past five years, the study found; the rate subsequently dropped back into line with recent trends, but remained elevated for the year.

Suicide rates for girls aged 10 to 17 — the demographic expected to identify most strongly with the show’s protagonist — did not increase significantly.

The study, posted Monday by the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, is likely to fuel further debate about the merits of “13 Reasons Why,” the third season of which is in production.

The New York Times, April 29, 2019

The Empty Promise of Suicide Prevention

Many of the problems that lead people to kill themselves cannot be fixed with a little extra serotonin.

If suicide is preventable, why are so many people dying from it? Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, and suicide rates just keep rising.

A few years ago, I treated a patient, a flight attendant, whose brother had brought her in to the psychiatric crisis unit after noticing her unusual behavior at a wedding. After the ceremony, she quietly handed out gifts and heartfelt letters to her family members. When her brother took her home, he noticed many of her furnishings and paintings were missing. In her bathroom he found three unopened bottles of prescription sleep medication.

He confronted her, and she admitted that she had donated her possessions to charity. She had also cashed out her retirement account and used the money to pay off her mortgage, her car loan and all of her bills.

When I interviewed her, she said that for the last four months, doing anything — eating, cleaning her house, talking to her neighbors — had taken colossal effort, and brought her no joy. She felt exhausted by having to live through each day, and the thought of sustaining this for years to come was an intolerable torment.

After evaluating her, I told her that I thought she was experiencing an episode of bipolar depression, and needed to be committed to the hospital while we started treatment. She shrugged and gave me her most troubling response yet: “I don’t care.”

The New York Times, April 26, 2019

Breaking the silence of suicide

Aaron was 28 when he died by suicide in May 2017, leaving behind two kids, Cora, 10, and Gabe, 6. 

“I wish I knew how to describe how I feel,” he wrote in his final Facebook post. “These past few weeks and days have left me feeling pretty (screwed) up mentally, emotionally and physically. I’m losing faith, but at the same time I’m not, because I believe thru my actions, along with my prayers, that God will provide. But I just wish things would get better, back on track, or at least be able to see some sort of light at the end of the tunnel…”

No one but Aaron knows what exactly transpired that night. A few things are known: His fiancé had just given her ring back. His room reeked of alcohol. He paused a game he was playing on his Xbox. He sent a text to his fiancé saying, “tell my kids I love them and that I’m sorry.” 

By the time she got the message, it was too late. 

She and her kids are not alone. Between 7,000 and 12,000 children lose a parent to suicide each year in the United States.

Cottage Grove Sentinel, April 22, 2019

Larger Schools May Be Driving Teen Suicide Rates Higher

Recent headlines have been screaming out a familiar story: teen suicide rates are increasing.

Suicide was the second leading cause of death for teens in 2016, and the teen suicide rate jumped 70 percent over the previous ten years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

There are many reasons one could find for the nation’s increased teen suicide rate. These include the decline of religion and community, the increasing number of broken homes and the lack of family support, and the harsh and divisive community substitute that many teens turn to through social media.

But there’s another possibility many of us overlook: school size., April 22, 2019

Reach Out: Ways To Help A Loved One At Risk Of Suicide

If you know someone struggling with despair, depression or thoughts of suicide, you may be wondering how to help.

Most Americans say that they understand that suicide is preventable and that they would act to help someone they know who is at risk, according to a national survey conducted by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention in 2018.

Yet many of us are afraid to do the wrong thing. In fact, you don’t have to be a trained professional to help, says Doreen Marshall, a psychologist and vice president of programs at the AFSP.

“Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention,” she says. But “most people hold back. We often say, ‘Trust your gut. If you’re worried about someone, take that step.’ “

NPR Shots Health News, April 20, 2019

Mom’s ‘desperate pleas’ ignored before fourth grader attempted suicide

Jamari Dent shown hospitalized at Comer Children’s Hospital.
| Screenshot from video by Jedidiah Brown

Two months after her 11-year-old son tried to hang himself with a bed sheet, a South Side mother has filed a federal lawsuit against the Chicago Board of Education and the elementary school administrators and teachers who she claims ignored — and sometimes joined — the chronic bullying that pushed the boy to attempt suicide.

Carter G. Woodson Elementary fourth grader Jamari Dent suffered permanent brain damage in the Feb. 18 attempt and remains hospitalized on a ventilator. It could have been prevented if officials hadn’t “ignored his mother’s desperate pleas to protect her young son,” according to the suit filed by Teirra Black on Wednesday in Chicago’s U.S. District Court.

“My son is not the same,” Black said Thursday outside La Rabida Children’s Hospital, where Jamari is expected to stay for at least another three months. “He’s like a whole, totally different child.”

Chicago Sun Times, April 18, 2019

Suicide Deaths Are Often ‘Contagious.’ This May Help Explain Why

In the wake of any high-profile suicide, public health experts steel themselves for the aftershock. Suicide contagion, the phenomenon by which exposure to one suicide death can trigger suicidal behavior in others, is well-documented but poorly understood.

A recent study published in the journal Society and Mental Health adds to the knowledge about why suicide contagion occurs. And it spotlights a common mistake that people may make when a community experiences suicide: normalizing these deaths.

“When there’s an unexpected death, people take notice,” says study co-author Seth Abrutyn, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of British Columbia in Canada. “They try to make sense of what’s happening.” And when they do, Abrutyn says, community members may unwittingly contribute to suicide contagion.

TIME, April 18, 2019

Family holds anti-bullying rally after White Station High student commits suicide

A tearful crowd honored gathered at White Station High School Wednesday evening to rally against bullying and honor a student who took his own life last week.

Family members didn’t want to go into detail about 15-year-old Fernando Montiel’s death, but they say they found evidence he was bullied.  Now they want to help other victims speak out against the practice. They’re asking people to do something about it.

“When you see something happening intervene, interrupt,” Fernando’s father, Enrique Montiel, said. “If you really want to show us your support and that you feel our pain, speak up.”

The family is starting an anti-bullying campaign. The color of their logo, orange, is championed by The National Bullying Prevention Center as a symbol of unity.

News Channel 3, WREG, Memphis, April 17, 2019

Why Are So Many Teen Athletes Struggling With Depression?

When high-school sports replicate the training methods and intensity seen at the college level, players feel the toll.

When Isabella started playing lacrosse in the first grade, she would wake up before sunrise and count the minutes until she could hop the chain-link fence that separated her house from the field where her team practiced. Her deftness with a lacrosse stick made her an early standout, and she soon gave up basketball and soccer to focus on the sport. By the time Isabella was a high-school sophomore, she had already been recruited by an elite, Division I college and was signing autographs in her lacrosse-obsessed hometown. “Lacrosse was a way to get attention—it filled that need,” says Isabella, who is being identified by her middle name to protect her privacy.

But during the summer before her junior year, Isabella pivoted awkwardly during a game and fell to the ground in pain. She had torn her ACL. For eight months, she couldn’t return to the field. “It was my worst year ever,” Isabella told me. While her teammates competed in tournaments, she worried about falling behind in the sport. While her friends mingled after school, she was stuck at physical therapy. Without lacrosse, Isabella felt restless and out of sorts. She started eating more and soon developed an eating disorder. “I’d grown up playing lacrosse, and I had no other hobbies,” Isabella said. “So when you don’t have it, you’re like, What am I going to do?”

The Atlantic, April 17, 2019

New study reveals ‘silence’ around suicide in young people

“The development of treatment models and interventions to support this vulnerable population must be informed by the views and experiences of suicidal children and young people. Our research will help inform the development of such models, provide vital information to those practitioners, and act as a foundation for any future research on this topic,” says Lynne Gilmour.

Mental health professionals treating children and young people with suicidal feelings should refer to ‘suicide’ explicitly to ensure they feel listened to, according to new research.

Research led by the University of Stirling identified “a silence around suicidality” within conversations between mental health practitioners and children and young people – and within academic research reporting. The team found that use of the term ‘self-harm’ to encompass suicidal behaviours was potentially contributing to this silence, by avoiding the word ‘suicide’.

The study also suggested that children and young people with suicidal feelings typically do not know where or how to access help, and do not feel listened to by health professionals.

MedicalXpress, April 15, 2019

Researchers Attempt To Predict & Prevent Suicide Using Deep Learning And Math

For years scientists have focused on the causes behind veteran suicide. Now the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and several national labs are teaming up to use deep learning and mathematics to intervene before it happens.

And like many scientific advancements birthed by military necessity, the attempt will ultimately serve all facets of the population, including older Americans.

Deep learning and the Internet itself were born from military research.

Consider that it was 1862 when U.S. Surgeon General William Hammond put out a call to medical field officers in the Union Army to send “any specimens of morbid anatomy that might be valuable to military medicine and surgery.”

Forbes, April 15, 2019

Parents blame bullying for White Station student’s suicide, hope for change

The family of a White Station High School student who took his own life last week thinks their loved one was bullied, and they want to make sure he’s the last student to resort to suicide as a solution to the problem.

The family is working with the school and the district to make sure suicide as a solution stops now. They said this young life lost won’t be in vain.

“The way he left himself, the way he took his life said a lot,” the victim’s brother, Enrique Montiel Flores said.

The family of Fernando Montiel didn’t want to go too far into detail about last Wednesday’s grim discovery, but they believe he was pushed by bullies to cut his life short.

News Channel 3 WREG, Memphis, April 12

Predictors of future suicide attempt among adolescents with suicidal thoughts or non-suicidal self-harm: a population-based birth cohort study


Suicidal thoughts and non-suicidal self-harm are common in adolescents and are strongly associated with suicide attempts. We aimed to identify predictors of future suicide attempts in these high-risk groups.


Most adolescents who think about suicide or engage in non-suicidal self-harm will not make an attempt on their life. Many commonly cited risk factors were not associated with transition to suicide attempt among these high-risk groups.

Our findings suggest that asking about substance use, non-suicidal self-harm, sleep, personality traits, and exposure to self-harm could inform risk assessments, and might help clinicians to identify which adolescents are at greatest risk of attempting suicide in the future.

The Lancet, April 1, 2019

Short-circuiting the suicide cascade

Psychologists are seeking better ways to cut the link between dire thoughts and fatal action. Among their strategies: individualized plans for pulling back from the brink, and limiting access to deadly means, especially guns.

The suicide rate in the United States continues to spiral upward, with seemingly no end in sight. More than 45,000 Americans take their own lives each year, 33 percent more than did so in 1999, according to the most recent federal data.

It’s a national public health crisis — one that researchers and clinicians have struggled to thwart because the triggers of suicide are so poorly understood. People may wrestle with suicidal thoughts for years, but not follow through. Depression and other mental health conditions are clearly risk factors, but such diagnoses aren’t linked to roughly half of all US suicides. Some prevention efforts, such as asking a patient to sign a “contract” to not commit suicide, have proved to be largely useless.

knowablemagazine, April 11, 2019

Suicide rates double for children ages 5-11

According to a recent study, the number of children visiting the emergency room for suicidal thoughts and attempts has doubled. “That is surprising, to be honest with you,” Shawn Williams, parent, said.

The study by the National Ambulatory Medical Survey Care found that the annual emergency room visits for suicide attempts jumped from 580,000 to 1.12 million between 2007 and 2015. These visits were for children ages five to 11.

KHQA, April 10, 2019

What the Tech? Teen suicide and social media

According to the CDC’s study, 43% of the visits to the hospital for suicidal thoughts were by children between the ages of 5 and 11.

The teenage suicide rate is up and shows no sign of slowing down.

The Centers for Disease Control says the number of teenagers going to the emergency room with suicidal thoughts has more than doubled in recent years. Depression and stress are likely causes.

When you see reports on teenage suicide and depression, you cannot help but wonder what role the internet plays in all that.

Access to social media is perhaps the biggest difference in the lives of middle schoolers from how their parents grew up.

WRCBtv, April 10, 2019

Child Suicide Attempts Are Skyrocketing in The US, And Nobody Knows Why

In the United States, suicidal behaviour has quietly morphed into a public health crisis, and it’s one that’s affecting some of the youngest people in the country.

For the second decade in a row, the number of children and teenagers visiting the emergency department for suicidal behaviour has almost doubled, and the median age is just 13 years old.

“The numbers are very alarming,” paediatric emergency room physician Brett Burstein from McGill University told CNN.

“We are seeing an acceleration of this issue, and I worry that we have not yet seen the peak.”

Using data collected by the Centres for Disease Control and Infection (CDC), the authors analysed over 30,000 visits to the emergency department for children ages five to 18.

In 2007, at the very beginning of the study, the authors tallied about 580,000 visits for suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts. By 2015, that number had skyrocketed to 1.12 million.

Science Alert, April 11, 2019

Natalie was quirky and loved sports. On her 13th birthday she was found dead by suicide

Natalie Lyle and Ariel Chase were pretty, blond 13-year-old girls who should have been giggling over boys, groaning over homework and gearing up for high school.

Instead, the two friends from New Providence Middle School in Clarksville died by suicide in early March, leaving friends, family and the community shocked, saddened and filled with questions.

In the days since their deaths, as police conducted their investigations and the community grappled with the aftermath, the people who loved Natalie and Ariel came to grips with the unimaginable: the loss of two young lives. 

Leaf Chronicle, April 10, 2019

Survivor of attempted suicide explains overcoming the urge to self-harm

Sadie Penn attempted suicide for the first time when she was 16 and again in early 2018, while she was a 18-year-old freshman in college in Pennsylvania. She has dealt with anxiety and depressive thoughts for as long as she can remember, and now, at age 20, is an outspoken advocate for others who may be struggling. 

Penn spoke with CBSN’s Anne-Marie Green last October about ending up in the hospital, overcoming suicidal thoughts, and getting the treatment she needed. 

Anne Marie: So you were going through grade school, you’re kind of managing your own anxiety, but then it gets to a point where you can’t manage it anymore?

Sadie: I think that the time that I stopped being able to manage my anxiety was when I started self-harming, and that was how I learned to manage it.

CBS News, April 9, 2019

Total eclipse: Even with loving parents and caring therapists, a child whose diagnosis came too late can lose the fight

‘We also don’t have genetic markers yet for any of these illnesses; we don’t have blood tests, so a lot of the diagnosis is based on observation and interviews,’ said Jill Emanuele, a psychologist in New York and senior director of the mood disorders centre at the Child Mind Institute. ‘The other challenge in diagnosing children is that they change really fast, so the presentations of their illness can change pretty quickly.’ A child brought in to a psychologist at age six with symptoms of inattention or hyperactivity might be diagnosed with ADHD, but the same symptoms might lead to a diagnosis of depression in a 13-year-old.

Aeon, April 8, 2019

Olympic Cyclist Kelly Catlin Seemed Destined for Glory. Then She Killed Herself.

Catlin was lining up for a shot at Olympic gold. And an elite mathematical mind would open opportunities off the track. But torment lurked behind the success.

In the weeks before the Olympic cyclist Kelly Catlin killed herself, she felt her mind slipping.

She could not focus on her schoolwork at Stanford, where she was a first-year graduate student in computational mathematics. In an email she sent to her family, a coach and a friend in January, she said her thoughts were “never-ending spinning, spinning, spinning” as if they were “never at rest, never at peace.”

She wrote that she cried about it, and that made her feel even worse. For years, Catlin, 23, was someone who took pride in holding back tears.

Catlin told her sister, Christine, that seeking therapy meant she was weak and that she would rather suffer. She told her brother, Colin, that she thought she was going insane and she worried that she was a danger to others because she was filled with rage.

The New York Times, April 8, 2019

Number of children going to ER with suicidal thoughts, attempts doubles, study finds

The number of children and teens in the United States who visited emergency rooms for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts doubled between 2007 and 2015, according to a new analysis.

Researchers used publicly available data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey, administered by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention every year. From the 300 emergency rooms sampled, the researchers tracked the number of children between 5 and 18 who received a diagnosis of suicidal ideation or suicide attempts each year.

Diagnoses of either condition increased from 580,000 in 2007 to 1.12 million in 2015, according to the study, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics. The average age of a child at the time of evaluation was 13, and 43% of the visits were in children between 5 and 11.

CNN, April 8, 2019

‘Breaking the Silence’: Relationship between bullying and suicide is complicated

KATU News is taking part in an unprecedented effort to raise awareness and stop the stigma surrounding suicide. For one week, from April 7 to April 14, over 30 newsrooms from around the state will be reporting on suicide and its effect on the community. The project is called “Breaking the Silence.”

Elsa Nelson compares the playground at her 8-year-old son’s school in Portland to Beirut. Despite being big for his age, Nelson’s son has been bullied often.

“He would tell me how they would be on the playground playing and kids would start to hit him and chase him,” she said.

More than once, he came home beat up–a victim to seemingly endless schoolyard attacks. The problem persisted even after Nelson talked to the school. She believed administrators weren’t doing enough, so she told her son to fight back.

“When he fights back, they (the bullies) would run and laugh and call him names,” she said.

She eventually started getting phones calls from the school. Her son was in trouble for fighting, for what she calls reacting to his bullies.

The bullying got so bad and lasted so long, her 8-year-old son said he wanted to die.

KATU2, April 7, 2019

Are Facebook’s Suicide Prevention Tactics Misguided?

What to think about Facebook’s foray into suicide prevention.

Alarming statistics about rising rates of suicide, including among teens and young adults, have rattled everyone in the suicide prevention field and the general public at large. Amidst this unsettling trend, it was therefore of great interest to many people when it became apparent that Facebook was trying its hand in suicide prevention.

Facebook has actually been involved in suicide prevention for a number of years, allowing people on Facebook to flag concerning posts, which would then be reviewed by trained members of the company’s Community Operations team, who could connect the person posting with support resources. In 2018, the company started using machine learning to actively scan posts for concerning messages potentially related to the desire to die by suicide. These posts would then be sent for review by a human team that would have to decide how to respond.

Psychology Today, April 7, 2019

No matter the desperation, suicide isn’t the answer

When anyone, especially a teenager, dies by suicide, it is difficult to comprehend. We see the person, seemingly vibrant, alive, and we wonder how he or she came to see life as so hopeless. We struggle to understand the sense of helplessness.

Yet teenagers and adults take their own lives. Suicide is the 10th-leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. It is the second-leading cause among young people ages 12 to 24.

In 2017, 1.4 million people attempted suicide. The highest death rate is among middle-aged white men, 129 of whom die by suicide every day.

We were reminded of the terrible sorrow and suffering suicide brings when two teenagers, one 18 and the other 15, took their own lives recently at the Rockville Centre Long Island Rail Road station.

It was trying to report on these stories. We did not mention suicide in the headline. We ran the story well inside the paper, without noting that they had died by suicide. We reported the basic facts surrounding the teens’ deaths. We did not want to sensationalize the story. Doing so can lead to “suicide contagion,” a phenomenon in which someone on the edge reads about someone else who has died, and takes his or her own life in the same manner, according to, April 5, 2019

Teen suicide prevention and LGBTQ kids

With at least 88 Arizona youths taking their own life over the last two years, including a recent wave in the East Valley, the issue of teen suicide has been in the news lately and has garnered the attention of the Legislature.

Senate Bill 1468, which has bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, would provide training in suicide prevention for school counselors, teachers, principals and other education personnel who work with students in grades 6-12.

Experts note that sometimes there are symptoms of teens who are at higher risk for potential suicide: depression, feelings of isolation, mood changes, withdrawing from personal interaction, sudden euphoria, quick temper, erratic eating habits, etc.

Also, certain occurrences in teens’ lives sometimes can act as suicidal triggers: a relationship breakup, struggles with grades, not making a team or club, bullying or feeling ostracized, poor body image, feeling misunderstood, parents’ divorce or death of a friend or family member.

Tuscon, April 5, 2019

10 Essential Facts About Guns and Suicide

More than two-thirds of all gun deaths are self-inflicted.

Despite the downward trend in violent death rates across the United States, suicide rates for men and women have steadily increased for the past 15 years.

The statistics are bleak. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in America. From ages 10 to 34, it is the second leading cause, claiming more lives than homicide or heart disease. In 2017, the most recent federal data shows, 47,173 people in America took their own lives. Between 1999 and 2017, the suicide rate jumped 33 percent.

Our country’s suicide problem is also a gun violence problem. Firearms are involved in about half of all suicide deaths, yet this connection is often overlooked. Gun advocates have been slow to acknowledge the extra risks posed to suicidal people who have easy access to a firearm. Some insist that gun suicides should not be counted as gun violence, even though they account for 60 percent of gun deaths.

The Trace, April 4, 2019

What we know and don’t know about how mass trauma affects mental health

Researchers are trying to figure out who is most at risk of self-harm.

In March, three people connected to mass school shootings died by suicide, raising questions about the lingering effects of such trauma on a person’s mental health.

Two teenagers who survived the 2018 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., took their own lives within days of each other. The father of a child killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., died by suicide a few days later. Suicide can occur in clusters, especially among teens.

But it’s too early to tell if these deaths are connected in any way, are related to having experienced similar mass traumas — or if they simply occurred close together by chance, says April Foreman. A psychologist in Baton Rouge, La., and board member of the American Association of Suicidology, Foreman is familiar with all three suicides.

“These are really complicated events,” she says. (One thing they aren’t, some researchers say, is contagious; a person can’t catch suicide like a common cold.)

ScienceNews, April 3, 2019

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Partners with Soul Shop™ to Train Faith Leaders

The nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, launched a new partnership with Soul Shop™ to train clergy, staff, lay pastors, and faith-based clinicians in suicide prevention. These training sessions will begin on April 8 in Springfield, Mass, and take place in seven cities across the United States through early June.

“We know that many people first go to their faith leader when they are struggling with the loss of a loved one by suicide or if they may be having thoughts of suicide. We also know that many of these faith leaders do not receive training on how to help their congregations when it comes to mental health and suicide prevention. Given AFSP’s nationwide reach and chapter structure, it was a natural partnership for us to work with the leaders from Soul Shop™ to bring this life-saving training to their clergy within the local communities that we work with every day,” said Dr. Doreen Marshall, the vice president of programs for AFSP.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, April 2, 2019

“Lack Of Education And Preconceived Notions About Mental Health Issues And Suicide Are Present In Society And This Contributes To The Stigma That Is Unfortunately Present.”

I have been a nurse for 40-years and have always only wanted to work in Pediatrics. I worked in two different pediatric ICUs before coming to Blythedale Children’s Hospital in 1994. I remember a former patient of mine in the PICU—an eight-year-old girl who fell ten stories. She had little chance of surviving.

Miraculously she woke up and was transferred to Blythedale for intensive rehabilitation. I couldn’t believe my eyes when she walked back into the PICU with her mom. She had a limp and was blind in one eye, but had made an incredible recovery. We saved her life in the PICU, and Blythedale gave her back her life.

From that point on, I wanted to work at Blythedale. Blythedale has given me so many opportunities for growth as a nurse. I never knew how much I would need their support over the past several years, and especially since May 8th, 2018, the day my son Peter Christopher Bartlett died from Bipolar Disorder by suicide. He had struggled for years with school because he had learning disabilties and issues that were difficult to diagnose.

Thrive Global, April 1, 2019