News Archive: Jan, Feb, March 2020

March 2020

CNN Town Hall – Corona virus and Mental Health

Psychiatrist Dr. Christine Moutier of the AFSP gives advice on how to cope with anxiety and stress related to social distancing, and 5-time Olympic Gold Medal-winning swimmer Katie Ledecky has advice on how to stay active while under self-quarantine.

CNN, March 26, 2020

Celebrity Suicide: ‘Clear and Compelling’ Contagion Effect

Media reports of celebrity suicides are associated with a “clear and compelling” increase in suicide rates in the general population, new research shows.

Results from a systematic review and meta-analysis show reports of celebrity suicide were linked to an increase in suicide of up to 18% over the following 1 to 2 months. In addition, reporting the method of suicide was associated with an increase of 18% to 44% in the risk of suicide by the same method.

“It suggests that particularly reporting about deaths of celebrities by suicide has a clear and compelling impact on subsequent suicide rates. The association is even stronger for celebrities that have a strong social status in the population,” he added.

Medscape, March 19, 2020

Protect Your Family’s Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

This is an unprecedented time for all of us. Take these steps to help yourself and your kids cope.

Over the last couple of weeks, I have heard from many parents concerned about the impact the coronavirus epidemic is having on their emotional health and their children’s mental well-being. Kids and teens, too, are expressing their own worries about the impact COVID-19 is having on their lives.

Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to protect your family’s mental health during this very difficult time.

• Know That This Will End
• Make Social Distancing and Self-Quarantining Manageable
• Resist the urge to treat this time as a vacation.
• Create a schedule for yourself and your children for each day.
• Your family’s schedule should include physical activity.
• Limit your family’s exposure to news.
• Use technology for social interaction.
• Starting Now, Make Plans Only for the Very Near Future – About 3 Days
• Rely on Official Health Recommendations to Make Difficult Decisions
• Acknowledge Painful Changes Related to Social Distancing
• Know Anxiety or Depression Could Get Worse
• Try Not to Pass Your Anxiety on to Your Kids

U.S. News & World Report, March 18, 2020

Suicide 2nd leading cause of death for those ages 10-24 in California

Recently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the new 2018 Fatal Injury Data. In California, suicide is the second leading overall cause of youth death and every 0.67 days on an average a young person age 10-24 is lost to the silent epidemic of youth suicide.

With that being said, suicide is one of the leading causes of preventable death. Four out of every five young people who attempt suicide exhibit clear warning signs before an attempt. It means in 80% of attempts people have an opportunity to recognize these warning signs and intervene. By knowing the warning signs associated with suicide and knowing how to help, they could save a life.

Valley News, March 19, 2020

Teen Suicide Spiking Due in Part to Unrealistic Expectations, Hotline Expert Says

Youth suicide is on the rise — and Kris Hallstrom, manager of a national teen suicide prevention hotline based in Nebraska, is working to stop it. 

One of her strategies: Bust kids’ belief that life is perfect, a myth she said is perpetuated by television dramas and carefully curated social media accounts.

To make the point, she displayed a “prom pic” at a workshop she gave in Washington in February on preventing teen suicide. The students in the photo — a gaggle of Midwesterners — were dressed to the nines, the boys in black and white tuxes and the girls in flowing pastel gowns. 

They were all smiles — despite a tornado threat that forced them to cancel their dinner plans and other typical teen drama like acne, relationship issues and school stress. Also invisible: the deeper challenges many were experiencing at the time, including eating disorders and alcoholism, divorce and death in the family.

“Kids have such an unrealistic expectation of everything being perfect,” Hallstrom said. “It’s just not a real thing.”

Her goal is to help them understand that “it’s OK to not be OK all the time” — and to give them the love, support and skills they need to cope with trauma and overcome adversity. 

Youth Today, March 18, 2020

Is Suicide Really a Selfish Act?

Many people believe one of the most harmful myths about suicide. When a person dies by suicide, they leave behind an enormous amount of pain for their loved ones. As a result, many people believe the deceased acted selfishly, without consideration for the effects on others. However, this belief is one of the most harmful myths about suicide.

Kristi Hugstad encountered this myth after she lost her husband Bill to suicide. “After Bill’s death, the most common thing people said to me was, ‘I can’t believe he did this to you,’” said Hugstad in our conversation on the Think Act Be podcast. “So it was all about Bill causing pain to the people who loved him.”

I’ve experienced some of that pain myself when people I’ve known have taken their own lives. I still wonder every day why a good friend of mine killed himself nearly three years ago. What led him to that point? What was he feeling in his final days and moments? What could I have done to help him? And while I never met my father’s father, his suicide eight years before I was born left a legacy of pain that I felt in our household when I was growing up.

Psychology Today, March 13, 2020

8% of children have suicidal thoughts, new study says: Two percent of have reported a suicide attempt.

Eight percent of 9- and 10-year-olds reported suicidal thoughts and 2% reported a suicide attempt, according to a new study of 8,000 children in the U.S., published in Lancet Psychiatry.
Suicide is a major public health concern and the second-leading cause of death in youth after unintentional injury.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported a 30% increase in suicides in the United States in the past decade, with rates increasing in all age groups. The rates of emergency room visits for adolescents and children complaining of suicidal thoughts have also increased over the past years.

ABC News, March 12, 2020

UVM team develops 2-minute suicide risk assessment app

A suicide risk assessment tool developed by a team of University of Vermont researchers is making its way into the prison and the military systems. It’s in the early stages of a rollout that the creators hope will significantly aid health care providers in identifying and saving people who are in crisis.

The Systematic Expert Risk Assessment for Suicide, or SERAS, is a questionnaire that can be administered on an iPad. It was developed at UVM as a clinical assessment of the acute risk of suicide within 72 hours, and has been tested in a clinical setting in hospital emergency departments.

Answering the questions is quick – it takes just two minutes – and, because it’s on an iPad and not administered personally, it can eliminate some of the barriers that stop patients from telling health care providers if they are considering harming themselves., March 8, 2020

Suicide has only gotten younger. These two families, bonded by loss, are taking action.

Alec Murray was 13. He enjoyed camping, fishing and skiing. At home, it was video games, movies and books. Having just completed middle school with “almost straight A’s,” those grades were going to earn him an iPhone for his upcoming birthday.

Instead, he killed himself on June 8 – the first day of summer break.

Caleb Stenvold was 14. He was a high school freshman in the gifted and talented program. He ran track and played defensive cornerback on his school’s football team. Just two months into high school and four months after Alec’s suicide – Caleb killed himself on Oct. 22.

The teenagers, both from Reno, Nevada, didn’t know each other. But their families now do, bonded by loss. Their parents are haunted by what they don’t understand: why.

USA Today, March 7, 2020

What’s Behind the Increase in Adolescent Suicide? What we do and don’t know about teen suicide.

Although the first season of the Netflix show 13 Reasons Why was released several years ago, its questionable portrayal of adolescent suicide continues to make waves in the suicide prevention community. At first glance, it would certainly seem that the show’s portrayal of a high school student who eventually dies by suicide would raise the risk of suicide contagion.

After all, the show’s representation of young Hannah Baker, her struggles with a desire to escape her life, and her eventual suicide seems to flout almost every single rule about safe messaging that exists. And of course, these rules exist for a reason—irresponsible portrayal of suicide and suicidality can absolutely increase the risk for contagion.

Yet the extent to which this show actually led to a noticeable increase in rates of adolescent suicide is very much up for debate. Lately, it often feels like we are going in circles with this question. A recent time series analysis found a significant increase in monthly suicide rates in teenagers aged 10 to 17 following the release of the show. Another time series analysis published in May of 2019 in JAMA had the same finding.

Psychology Today, March 6, 2020

February 2020

U.Va. researchers find texts can be early warning for suicide prevention

Researchers at the University of Virginia hope to use text messages to help clinicians detect an increased risk of suicide attempts in real-time.

With software that gauges a person’s mood according to the frequency of positive or negative words sent in a text — like happy, joyful, hate or mad — lead author Jeff Glenn and others aim to use digital data to move suicide prevention beyond relying on patients to self-report suicidal thoughts that can sometimes be fleeting or concealed.

“When the clinician is doing a risk assessment, we’re only getting a really narrow snapshot in time during that face-to-face encounter,” Glenn said in a news release Monday. “What we tried to do is design a study to learn if we could see signs of increased risk through text messaging, which is something that a lot of people do every day.”

Glenn and his team collected nearly 200,000 messages from 33 individuals who had attempted suicide in the past, comparing messages sent in the weeks leading up to an attempt to lower-risk periods to determine if there was a discernible change in their tone.

WTOP News, Feb. 24, 2020

After 12-Year-Old Son Takes Life, Mom Founds Gabriel’s Light Organization To Prevent Youth Suicide

A North Side mom is on a mission to save young lives. As CBS 2’s Erin Kennedy reported, Carol Deely lost her 12-year-old son, and now wants to make sure other parents don’t feel that unending pain.

She said schools can, and must, help.

“We have five children. Unfortunately, one of them is a statistic now,” Deeley said, “He died by suicide on November 14, 2019 – our son Gabriel.” The details of the day it happened are etched in Deely’s mind. “It was a normal day. He said he was just going to go up to his room and do his homework,” she said. “That was the last time that I spoke with him.”

Deely and her husband were involved in Gabe’s life. They knew he had a girlfriend, and loved ballroom dancing.

They didn’t know how much he was hurting.

2 CBS News Chicago, Feb. 21, 2020

New Statistics Released on Suicide Deaths in America

The Jason Foundation, Inc., a nationally recognized leader in youth suicide awareness and prevention, shared the announcement today that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Center for Health Statistics have released 2018 Fatal Injury Data.  This data contains statistics regarding the leading causes of death within the US. 

In 2018, the most recently available data, suicide was the second leading cause of death for youth ages 10 – 24.  This equates to losing more than 130 young people in this age group each week.  Firearms and Suffocation remain as the most common methods, accounting for over 85% of suicide deaths.  We lost more young people in this age group to suicide than to motor vehicle accidents in 2018. 

PR Newswire, Feb. 21, 2020

When A Teen Loses A Friend To Suicide, Life As They Know It Can Shatter

By her own description, Brooke, who recently graduated from Arapahoe High School in Littleton, led a sheltered life in a quiet cul-de-sac.

The 19-year-old had friends, a dog named Kenai and a loving family. She went to church on Sundays, although more often when she was younger, did well in school, played lacrosse.

Then in January of her sophomore year, Brooke’s world started to crumble when a classmate she knew died by suicide. In her junior year, a classmate took his life. In her senior year, another classmate and her close friend died by suicide.

In recent years, several students have died by suicide at Arapahoe High. 

The deaths deeply affected Brooke, as with many young people who lose someone to suicide. A friend or classmate’s suicide can encourage greater suicidal thinking and higher depression in teens, according to one study. Seeking therapeutic help in the first year after the death is critical. Within six years, other factors are more relevant in explaining any suicidal ideation.

CPR News, Feb. 20, 2020

Volunteer – Cyber bullying often blamed for youth suicides

Four months ago a Manchester youth took his own life for what is being blamed on cyber bullying.

Cyber bullies, classmates of his at Coffee County’s Central High School, took to social media and embarrassed and humiliated the 16-year-old junior to the point his brother reportedly said “there was no way he could have gone to school afterward.”

While this is one of the state’s most recent incidents of youth suicide, it by no means is a stand alone case.

No county, can claim a safe haven from youth suicide. It is a topic of concern for some of the state’s most populated areas as well as Tennessee’s smallest and most rural communities.

The Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network notes, that, as of 2017, suicide is the second-leading cause of death for young people (ages 10-19) in the Volunteer State.

In any given year, TSPN reports that more teenagers and young adults die by suicide than from cancer and heart disease combined. 

Cleveland Daily Banner, Feb. 15, 2020

Study: LGBTQ+ Youth are Four Times More Likely to Attempt Suicide

Experts point to a worsening political and social climate as contributing factors.

Over the past decade in the United States, there have been significant increases in deaths caused by suicide — particularly among teens and young adults, according to a report released by The Trevor Project last week. The report revealed new findings from the suicide prevention organization’s own research as well as recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Once again, the most startling findings showed that LGBTQ+ youth were more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.

Though previous research had already shown considerably higher rates of suicidality among queer and trans young people, the latest data from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBS) revealed that LGB youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide compared to straight peers. This is a significant jump from the often-cited statistic stating that suicide attempts are three times as likely among queer youth. The report also stated other CDC research showed similar numbers in regards to transgender young people.

Out, Feb. 11, 2020

Adolescents and suicide prevention

Talking to your child about suicide may be one of the most difficult and uncomfortable conversations you’ll have, but it may also be the most important. Do not be afraid of the word “suicide.” And according to research, talking to kids about suicide does not cause or increase suicide. Please read that again. By talking about suicide prevention, kids will know parents are open to discussing serious topics and parents will provide support when needed.

Why discuss mental health matters with kids? Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the Unites States for kids ages 10-19. And 1 out of every 6 high school students has considered suicide in the past year. Depression and suicide affect people of every race, religious background, and income level. Kids need to know the warning signs of depression and suicide and how to get help. Most kids who attempt suicide have shown signs of depression.

The Public Defender, Feb. 12, 2020

Number of non-heterosexual teens grows, but suicide attempts remain high

A new study found the number of high schoolers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or unsure of their sexual identity doubled. Attempted suicide rates among them was nearly four times as high as their heterosexual peers.

The number of high school students who considered themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or unsure of their sexual identity doubled from 2009 to 2017, but large disparities remain between the rate of attempted suicide among those teens and the rate of attempted suicide for their straight peers, according to a study. 

A study from Boston University School of Public Health published in the journal Pediatrics Monday evaluated high school students in six states who identified as either gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure in youth surveys. 

The study found those who did not identify as strictly heterosexual rose from 7.3 percent to 14.3 percent between 2009 and 2017. Researchers also found the share of adolescents who reported any same-sex sexual contact rose from 7.7 percent in 2009 to 13.1 percent in 2017.

The Hill, Feb. 10, 2020

More Evidence Links Social Media Use to Poorer Mental Health in Teens

Smartphones, and being on Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok and the like may be taking a big toll on teens’ mental health, a new survey of collected data on the subject shows.

Canadian researchers pored over dozens of studies and said the negative effects of social media on teens’ well-being is on the rise.

“Physicians, teachers and families need to work together with youth to decrease possible harmful effects of smartphones and social media on their relationships, sense of self, sleep, academic performance, and emotional well-being,” said study lead author Dr. Elia Abi-Jaoude. He’s a staff psychiatrist at The Hospital for Sick Children and Toronto Western Hospital, both in Toronto.

U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 10, 2020

Self-Care for Teens: a Boon for Mental Health

Adolescents who eat well, get enough sleep and stay physically active reap the benefits.

Teens are getting too little sleep, not enough exercise and spending far too much time online. Research tells us so (if you need proof), and it’s also clear that when teens don’t take care of themselves, it can affect their mental health.

That’s all the more reason parents should teach their kids about the fundamentals of good self-care. And that means getting back to the basics, such as eating well, getting plenty of sleep and exercising more. That may be easier said than done, as adults know. But if you want your teen to live a healthier life, it’s important to pay attention to these three pillars of health.

U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 10, 2020

Study: Family Factors Are Tied to Suicide Thoughts and Attempts in Children

Many parents of 9- and 10-year-olds are unaware of their child’s struggles, new research also indicates.

A vast majority of parents and caregivers don’t know about their children’s suicidal thoughts or actions, a new study suggests, even as family dynamics are linked to the dangerous behaviors.

For the study, published online Friday in JAMA Network Open, researchers examined survey data on roughly 11,800 children as well as one of their caregivers to assess the prevalence of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and non-suicidal self-injury among 9- and 10-year-olds. They also explored whether factors such as financial adversity, parental monitoring and family conflict were associated with suicidality and self-harm in children.

From the children’s responses, the researchers approximated that 6.4% had a history of passive suicide ideation, or wishing to be dead, while 4.4% at some point had wanted to take their own life without a method, intent or plan in mind. Another 2.4% had at least expressed an intent to act on suicidal thoughts, formulated a plan or considered a method, while 1.3% had actually attempted suicide and 9.1% intentionally inflicted injury to their body without suicidal intent.

U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 7, 2020

Neurological disorder diagnosis may increase suicide risk

Individuals diagnosed with a neurological disorder have a significantly higher rate of suicide compared with those without this diagnosis, according to results of a nationwide, retrospective cohort study conducted in Denmark and published in JAMA.

“Population-based studies have associated head injury, stroke, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis with suicide,” Annette Erlangsen, PhD, of the Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention, and colleagues wrote. “Findings related to less prevalent neurological disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington disease and Parkinson disease, were inconclusive due to small sample sizes, selection bias and suboptimal comparison groups while not being adjusted for relevant confounders, such as physical and mental comorbidity.”

Healio Psychiatry, Feb. 6, 2020

TikTok Livestreamed a User’s Suicide — Then Got Its PR Strategy in Place Before Calling the Police

TikTok acted rapidly – not to alert the authorities or the young man’s family, but to avoid tarnishing the company’s image.

João filmed the last livestream of his life on a summer afternoon a year ago. He was 19 and living in Curitiba, the capital of the state of Paraná in southern Brazil. The day before, João issued an ominous warning to his fans that he had been planning a special performance.

Their eyes glued to the screens of their cellphones, some 280 people watched the young vlogger kill himself live on TikTok, last year’s fourth-most downloaded app in the world. It was 3:23 p.m. on February 21, 2019. The video, with 497 comments and 15 complaints, remained live for more than an hour and a half, simply showing João’s body. (The Intercept is using a pseudonym for João to protect his family’s privacy.)

Officials at TikTok, which has seen a meteoric rise among a sea of phone apps, only became aware of the suicide at 5 p.m. The company immediately began putting a public relations strategy in place to ensure that what had occurred never made headlines.

The Intercept, Feb. 6, 2020

School tip lines were meant to stop shootings, but uncovered a teen suicide crisis

Police say the anonymous reporting systems have helped them save the lives of suicidal teens.

Two police officers in Hermiston, Oregon, banged on the front door of a family’s home on a Sunday evening in November 2017. When the father answered the door, confused about why the cops were there, the officers quickly brushed past him, telling him they’d received a report that his teenage son was about to kill himself.

One of the son’s classmates had submitted a report to SafeOregon, a school safety tip line run by the state police, warning that the teenager was suicidal and that he had shared a picture of himself with a belt around his neck. SafeOregon sent two officers to check on him.

“The dad had no idea about any of this,” said Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston, one of several law enforcement and school officials who described the incident to NBC News. “He was out in the living room and had no idea what was going on.”

NBC News, Feb. 1, 2020

6 Ways Parents Can Help Prevent Teen Suicide

It’s news no parent wants to think about: Teen suicide is on the rise.

The adolescent suicide rate has reached its highest point since 2000, increasing more than 50 percent between 2007 and 2017 in the United States. The increase in the suicide rate has been especially pronounced among teenage boys ages 15 to 19.

The statistics are scary, but parents can help their children navigate these difficult years, says UNC psychologist Samantha Pflum, PhD, who specializes in treating children and adolescents.

“One of the most important things is knowing that many youth, regardless of what their life circumstances are, are at risk,” she says.

She suggests six things parents can do to help prevent teen suicide.

UNC Health Talk, Feb. 3, 2020

Rural schools hit hard by teen suicides

Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds in Michigan, and the rates are nearly double in rural communities, according to state and federal surveys.

That’s above the national average and has risen in recent years.

The surveys were done by the state Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

One in six children in the United States between 6 and 17 years old has a treatable mental health disorder like depression or anxiety, according to the National Survey of Children’s Health.

Treatment is slowly becoming more readily available, but can be hard to obtain in rural areas, according to Corbin Standley, a psychology Ph.D. student at Michigan State University. He chairs the Michigan chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“A large portion of the state is very rural, and research shows that more rural counties have higher suicide rates,” Standley said. “This is due in part to less access to mental health services and mental health care.”

Ionia Sentinel-Standard, Feb. 2, 2020

The Question When A Loved One Dies By Suicide – Why?

For every suicide there is an estimated six or more “suicide survivors,” people who are left behind trying to cope with this traumatic loss. They include spouses, parents, siblings, friends and relatives.

The Question is – WHY?

One of the haunting thoughts that survivors carry in the aftermath of suicide is “ WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?”

As Bev Feigelman, one of the authors of Devastating Losses, and the mother of a young filmmaker who died by suicide describes, “ The question mark stays in the forefront of your mind haunting you and only with time starts to slowly move toward the back.”

Depression, often unrecognized and untreated is considered the major cause of suicide. What complicates this finding is that those suffering often struggle with the fear that they will not find the proper treatment.

In her important book, Depression and Your Child, one of the contributions of author Deborah Serani, is a listing of over 300 names of famous people from athletes, actors to writers who have suffered with depression.

PsychCentral, Feb. 2, 2020

January 2020

Number of Americans Headed to ER for Suicidal Thoughts, Self-Harm Keeps Rising

Men and women are flooding America’s emergency rooms because of suicidal thoughts and injuries caused by harming themselves, federal health officials reported Thursday.

In fact, these types of emergency room visits shot up 25.5% from 2017 to 2018, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

April Foreman, an executive committee member of the board of directors at the American Association of Suicidology and a suicide prevention coordinator at the VA Health System in Baton Rouge, La., wasn’t surprised by the news.

“Nobody who’s trying to figure out mental health care is going to tell you that we’re being underutilized,” she said. “There are huge wait times and it’s really hard to get care.

MedicineNet, Jan. 30, 2020

More and more Americans are dying by suicide. What are we missing?

America’s suicide rate won’t stop rising. 

Numbers released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 48,344 people died by suicide in 2018, up from 47,173 the year before. While the increase was small, just two-tenths of a percent, the rise in deaths over time has been steady. Since 1999, the suicide rate has climbed 35%. 

Death rates in 2018 increased for only two of the 10 leading causes of death: suicide and influenza/pneumonia.

“I was 100% unsurprised,” said April Foreman, a clinician and board member at the American Association of Suicidology, noting systems of science and care have remained static. “That’s not acceptable. We need to start treating these deaths seriously and respecting these survivors by upping our game in public health.”

USA Today, Jan. 30, 2020

Report: U.S. Suicide Rate Highest Among Wealthy Nations

The United States spends substantially more than any other wealthy nation on health care, yet it has a lower life expectancy and a higher suicide rate than its peer nations, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report.

The report, U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2019: Higher Spending, Worse Outcomes, compares the United States to 10 other high-income nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Commonwealth Fund researchers examined U.S. health care spending, outcomes, risk factors, and quality relative to these other countries. They also compared U.S. performance to the average of all 36 OECD member nations.

Among the key findings:

The U.S. has the highest suicide rate of any wealthy nation. Suicides account for 14 deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S. This is double the suicide rate of the United Kingdom. Potential factors that contribute to the high U.S. suicide rate include a high burden of mental illness, a lack of mental health screening, inadequate investment in social services, and the inability of many people to pay for mental health treatment. In recent years, Americans have experienced an uptick in “deaths of despair,” which include suicides and deaths related to substance use and drug overdoses., Jan. 30, 2020

We Lost Our Son to Suicide. Here’s How We Survived.

I tried many of the supports available to help parents heal, like therapy, support groups, exercise and finding a way to honor our son’s memory.

On Sept. 7, 2017, my 31st wedding anniversary, a date marked by happy memories turned tragic. That was when I learned that my 23-year-old son, Garrett, had died by suicide. Two and a half years later, the news that brought me to my knees rings in my memory as if it were delivered just yesterday.

Garrett was popular, talented and loved by his many friends and family members. Yet he felt alone in his struggles. Despite our fervent efforts to get him help, he slipped through our grasp. My husband and I had to come to terms with the most brutal outcome for a parent: We could not save him.

Our son is part of an epidemic of youth suicide. He was one of 6,252 Americans ages 15 to 24 who officially died by suicide in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Any loss of a child is devastating. But a suicide death takes a particularly severe toll on the survivors. Research shows that people who are grieving a suicide are 80 percent more likely to drop out of school or quit their jobs — and 64 percent more likely to attempt suicide themselves — than those who are grieving sudden losses by natural causes.

The New York Times, Jan. 30, 2020

More and more Americans are dying by suicide. What are we missing?

America’s suicide rate won’t stop rising. 

Numbers released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 48,344 people died by suicide in 2018, up from 47,173 the year before. While the increase was small, just two-tenths of a percent, the rise in deaths over time has been steady. Since 1999, the suicide rate has climbed 35%.
Death rates in 2018 increased for only two of the 10 leading causes of death: suicide and influenza/pneumonia.

“I was 100% unsurprised,” said April Foreman, a clinician and board member at the American Association of Suicidology, noting systems of science and care have remained static. “That’s not acceptable. We need to start treating these deaths seriously and respecting these survivors by upping our game in public health.”

Suicide is the nation’s 10th-leading cause of death, with 14.2 deaths per 100,000 people, though that rate alone belies the scope of the problem. While thousands of people die by suicide each year, millions think about it.

USA Today, Jan. 30, 2020

Poverty Could Drive Up Youth Suicide Risk

New research shows that children and teens in U.S. areas with greater levels of poverty face a higher risk of suicide.

“Our findings suggest that community poverty is a serious risk factor for youth suicide, which should help target prevention efforts,” said lead study author Dr. Jennifer Hoffmann. She is a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

For the study, Hoffmann and her colleagues analyzed federal government data on suicides in children and teens aged 5 to 19 that occurred from 2007 to 2016.

They identified nearly 21,000 suicides in this age group, which works out to an annual suicide rate of 3.4/100,000 children. The majority of these suicides (85%) were among teens aged 15 to 19. Males accounted for 76% of the suicides, and whites for 69%.

WedMD, Jan. 27, 2020

Mother’s Suit Blames Suicide of 9-Year-Old Girl on Bullying

The mother of a 9-year-old girl who took her own life filed suit Thursday blaming the fourth-grader’s death on educators she accused of ignoring the girl’s complaints about months of bullying by a boy.

Administrators and teachers at U.S. Jones Elementary School in the west Alabama town of Demopolis showed “deliberate and blatant indifference” to bullying McKenzie Adams endured before killing herself at her grandmother’s home in December 2018, the lawsuit claimed.

One white boy in particular taunted the black girl with “racial and gender based slurs,” the lawsuit said, but McKenzie wrote in her diary that another boy also harassed her.

The child, her mother and her grandmother all complained but school officials didn’t act to stop the bullying, the suit claimed. Instead, a teacher told McKenzie to “tell it to the wall because I do not want to hear it,” the lawsuit said. Rather than punishing the main bully, the teacher disciplined the girl for telling on him, it claimed.

The Associated Press, New York Times, Jan. 16, 2020

Black kids and suicide: Why are rates so high, and so ignored?

Teen suicide rates among black youth are increasing. In 2016 and again in 2018, national data revealed that among children age 5-11, black children had the highest rate of death by suicide. For the years 2008 to 2012, 59 black youth died by suicide, up from 54 in the years 2003-2007.

Also, the 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that, compared to non-Hispanic white boys, black high-school age boys are more likely to have made serious suicide attempts that require medical attention.

I am a professor of psychology and also director of the culture, risk and resilience research laboratory at the University of Houston, and I recently co-authored a study that suggests that new risk profiles may be needed for better suicide prediction in African Americans in particular.

Trumbull Times, Jan. 17, 2020

Suicide can be prevented, despite overwhelming belief that it can’t

There’s a misperception out there that suicide simply can’t be prevented, and if someone wants to attempt suicide, there’s no stopping them.

Thanks to additional education on the topic and an understanding of what people are going through, the Center for Disease Control and the QPR Institute have come up with ways to prevent something that was once thought inevitable.

According to the QPR Institute (Question, Persuade, Refer), research shows that the majority of people who attempt suicide give some sort of warning signs, whether they’re verbal or behavioral, of their intent to kill themselves.

Those warning signs are often given in the final week preceding an attempt, according to Open Heart Advocates Director Meghan Francone.

Craig Press, Jan. 15, 2020

Secret hashtags and code names teens use to talk about suicide

Suicide is the cause of 13 percent of teenage deaths in the United States. In this day and age, many teens are turning to social media to post about their mental health and thoughts about self-harm.

“You feel safer behind a computer screen, than if you’re face to face with somebody,” clinical psychologist Dr. Rachel Needle said.

Dr. Needle says many are posting about suicide and depression using secret code names and hidden hashtags within their posts.

It’s a place where some believe their parents wouldn’t think to look, but Needle says parents need to pay more attention.

“For a lot of parents, they will go to panic,” she said. “It’s important that you keep your calm, as hard as that can be sometimes because you want your child to feel like they can talk to you openly.”

On social media, teen are using code names for mental health disorders, like annie for anxiety and sue for suicidal.

Hashtags #secretsociety123 or #KMS, which means kill yourself. Together, both hashtags have more than 2 million posts on Instagram.

Below is a list of more codes:
• Ana or Rex – Anorexia
• Mia or Bill – Bulimia
• Perry or Pat – Paranoia
• Cat or Sam – Self-harm
• Deb or Dan – Depression

CBS 12 News, Jan. 10, 2020

What’s Behind the Dramatic Rise in Teen Suicide?

A child psychiatrist shares insights gained from his work with children and teens who have contemplated suicide

Life is hard, but the transition from child to teen can be especially rough. For a growing number of young people, the process is so unbearable they do the unthinkable.

According to an October 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the suicide rate among U.S. children aged 10 through 14 has nearly tripled from 2007 to 2017. The suicide rate among older teenagers (15 to 19) has also increased by 76 percent

The report doesn’t try to explain these figures. But as the number of young people killing themselves climbs steadily over a decade, you can’t help but wonder why.

Dr. Suvrat Bhargave, a board-certified psychiatrist specializing in child and adolescent psychiatry, points to several contributing factors. Bhargave is saddened by the CDC statistics, but not surprised by them. Many of the kids who come to his office suffer from extreme anxiety and uncontrolled rage, and they confront pressures and circumstances unknown to previous generations. Bhargave profiles some of these cases in his new book, “A Moment Of Insight.”

The Epoch Times, Jan. 9, 2020

The mental health crisis on campus and how colleges can fix it

When college students seek help for a mental health issue on campus—something they are doing more often—the place they usually go is the college counseling center.

But while the stigma of seeking mental health support has gone down, it has created a new problem: College counseling centers are now struggling to meet the increased demand.

As a researcher who examines problems faced by college students in distress, I see a way to better support students’ mental health. In addition to offering individual counseling, colleges should also focus on what we in the mental health field refer to as population health and prevention.

Medical Xpress, Jan. 6, 2020

‘He never looked depressed’: Elementary-age suicide is heartbreaking. How can you help?

Amber Satterfield knew her firstborn child. She was 19 when he was born; they’d grown up together.

She knew neon green was Zakiah’s favorite color, that football was his passion, that he someday wanted to be a rock star or a missionary — or both. She knew he’d had some recent struggles in school.

But she couldn’t know that her sweet, smart, sensitive child would take his own life — at age 9. 

Satterfield found people had trouble understanding a child as young as Zakiah could die by suicide — especially when he’d never broached the subject.

“We don’t know how he knew how to do what he did, or how the idea even came into his mind to do what he did,” she said. “We had never, ever even heard that suicide happened in children that young.”

Satterfield doesn’t share the details of Zakiah’s death except to close family and friends, and Knox News does not reveal the specifics of most suicides.

For ages 10-24, suicide is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide is far less common in children Zakiah’s age and younger than it is in adults, or even in older children and teens. 

Knox News, Jan. 7, 2020

Why Are Young Americans Killing Themselves? Suicide is now their second-leading cause of death.

Teenagers and young adults in the United States are being ravaged by a mental health crisis — and we are doing nothing about it. As of 2017, statistics show that an alarming number of them are suffering from depression and dying by suicide. In fact, suicide is now the second leading cause of death among young people, surpassed only by accidents.

After declining for nearly two decades, the suicide rate among Americans ages 10 to 24 jumped 56 percent between 2007 and 2017, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And for the first time the gender gap in suicide has narrowed: Though the numbers of suicides are greater in males, the rates of suicide for female youths increased by 12.7 percent each year, compared with 7.1 percent for male youths.

At the same time, the rate of teen depression shot up 63 percent, an alarming but not surprising trend given the link between suicide and depression: In 2017, 13 percent of teens reported at least one episode of depression in the past year, compared with 8 percent of teens in 2007, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

The New York Times, Jan. 6, 2020

How can we leverage technology for better suicide prevention?

Technology hasn’t played the role many expected it would in helping to prevent suicides. Butleveraging digital health and machine learning in three areas believed to contribute to suicide deaths could go far helping save people’s lives says “Viewpoint” column published in JAMA Psychiatry.

“The current, limited technological advances in suicide prevention do not reflect a failure of technology or big data, but rather a need to realign research aims and clinical use with prevention research that address the upstream suicide risk that precedes suicide crisis,” wrote psychiatrist John Torous, MD, and clinical psychologist Rheeda Walker, PhD. 
As rates of suicide attempts and deaths have recently increased to 50-year highs, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention identified three health care gaps that contribute to suicide death:  

• Failing to proactively identify suicide risk. 
• Not acting efficiently for safety. 
• Inadequately providing supportive contacts for people at risk of suicide.

AMA, January 3, 2020

Why Is America So Depressed?

It’s no coincidence that our politics and our mental health have declined so rapidly, at the same time.
Everyone has his or her own definition of a political crisis. Mine is when our collective mental health starts having a profound effect on our politics — and vice versa.

It cannot be a simple coincidence that the two have declined in tandem. The American Psychiatric Association reported that from 2016 to 2017, the number of adults who described themselves as more anxious than the previous year rose 36 percent.

In 2017, more than 17 million American adults had at least one major depressive episode, as did three million adolescents ages 12 to 17. Forty million adults now suffer from an anxiety disorder — nearly 20 percent of the adult population. (These are the known cases of depression and anxiety. The actual numbers must be dumbfounding.)

The really sorrowful reports concern suicide. Among all Americans, the suicide rate increased by 33 percent between 1999 and 2017.

The New York Times, Jan. 2, 2020