News Archive: July, August, September 2017

July, 2017

Internet searches on suicide went up after ‘13 Reasons Why’ released by Netflix

In the season finale of the popular Netflix TV series “13 Reasons Why,” 17-year-old student Hannah Baker kills herself in a prolonged three-minute scene.

Even though the entire story, much of it told through flashbacks, has been leading up to this moment, and viewers already know Hannah is dead, the graphic sequence is a torment to watch. New research suggests that the show — perhaps this very scene — could have triggered suicidal thoughts in its viewers, many of whom are young people.

The 13-episode series, which was released all at once, chronicles 13 tapes that Hannah sends to those she blames for her actions. The series has captured the imagination of kids across the country. In April, it set a record for the most-tweeted-about show in 2017, when it was mentioned more than 11 million times within three weeks of its March 31 launch.

The Washington Post, July 31, 2017 

The Ketamine Breakthrough for Suicidal Children

Initial research finds fast, dramatic benefits for a vulnerable population

Fourteen-year-old Nicole, whose name I changed for her privacy, told her mother every day for years that she wanted to end her own life. Between suicide attempts were more psychiatric hospital visits than she or her mother could count. She refused to get out of bed, shower, or go to school, missing sixty school days in a single year. In one visit with her therapist, she admitted to praying every night that she would not wake up the next morning. After countless psychiatrists and psychotherapists were unable to improve her depression, her mother converted a bathroom cabinet into a locked safe, containing all of the sharp objects and pills in the house. Her parents were certain it was only a matter of time until Nicole killed herself.

Today, a now seventeen-year-old Nicole greets me with a big smile. Her blonde hair is pulled back into a ponytail to reveal her bright blue eyes. She tells me she hasn’t missed a day of school and is preparing for college. Blushing, she lets me know that her first date is coming up, a prom date to be precise. For the first time in years, she is happy and wants to live.

What happened to cause this dramatic change? In December, Nicole started infusions of a psychedelic drug called ketamine. Though she had failed to respond to endless medication trials for her depression (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, mirtazapine, topiramate, antipsychotics, and lithium to name just a few), ketamine cleared her depression within hours. The effect lasts about two weeks before she needs a new infusion.

Scientific American, July 18, 2017

The Suicide Epidemic: Social, Economic or Both?

Ours is a nation in despair. U.S. suicide rates have surged to a 30-year high, and it’s not just among struggling middle-aged whites. Suicides by girls age 10 to 14 have spiked over the last 18 years. And there’s been a shocking surge in children 17 or under dying from self-inflicted gunshot wounds.

Since 1999, suicide rates have risen in every age group except the elderly, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Among women 45 to 64 it jumped an astounding 63 percent. For men that age, it was up 43 percent.

In their report on rising death rates among middle-aged white Americans, Princeton economists Anne Case and Angus Deaton referred to “deaths of despair” – early deaths caused by drugs and alcohol, as well as by suicide. They cited deteriorating job prospects and a decline in stable relationships as possible factors.

Real Clear Politics, July 18, 2017

America sees alarming spike in middle school suicide rate

The rate of middle school suicide doubled between 2007 and 2014 in the United States for a variety of reasons, including the use of social media for bullying.

America is experiencing a striking rise in suicide among middle school students.

The suicide rate among 10- to 14-year-olds doubled between 2007 and 2014, for the first time surpassing the death rate in that age group from car crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In 2014 alone, 425 middle schoolers nationwide took their own lives.

“It’s alarming. We’re even getting cases involving 8- and 9-year olds,” said Clark Flatt, who started the Jason Foundation in Tennessee 20 years ago to help educate teachers about teen suicide after his 16-year-old son took his own life. “It’s scary. This isn’t an emerging problem – it’s here.”

Naples Daily News, July 14, 2017 

Texas Teen May Be Victim in ‘Blue Whale Challenge’ That Encourages Suicide

Isaiah Gonzalez, 15, found hanging from his closet after an apparent suicide, as allegedly instructed by macabre online game

A 15-year-old high school student is quite possibly the latest victim of a macabre online game called the “Blue Whale Challenge” after he was found hanging in his bedroom closet, his cell phone propped up to record his death.

Isaiah Gonzalez’s family told San Antonio TV station WOAI that they believe Gonzalez’s death was the final task in a 50-day Internet challenge that encouraged participants – primarily teens and young adults – to complete a number of daily tasks ranging from watching horror films to self-mutilation. The challenge also allegedly requires participants to take photos of themselves posing in dangerous positions, such as on the edge of a roof or on train tracks.

Isaiah’s father, Jorge Gonzalez, told WOAI that the family is certain the teen was involved with the challenge because he had sent his friends pictures of the completed tasks. “It talks about satanic stuff and stuff like that and my son was never into that,” he said.

Rolling Stone, July 12, 2017

As teen suicide rates go up, a psychiatrist offers parents warning signs and prevention tips

Famously impulsive teens are known for bad decisions and poor risk assessment skills — jumping down too many stairs on a skateboard, blowing off homework. But during this sometimes-tumultuous stage in life, Dr. Bruce Lovelace of St. Thomas Community Health Center says there’s something else parents should be aware of. Though it’s often hard to think about, troubled young people are at risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors, and hospitalizations for kids thinking about suicide are on the rise. 

At a May Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting, a new study revealed that the percentage of children and teens hospitalized for suicidal thoughts between 2008 and 2015 had doubled since the last period studied. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention data cites suicide as the second-leading cause of death nationally for people between the ages of 10 and 24; rates in particular are on the rise among girls ages 10-14.

Gambit–New Orleans, July 11, 2017

What parents need to know about Blue Whale ‘suicide dare’ game and Texas teen’s death

Apparently hidden in the creepiest corners of the internet is an “obstacle course” of 50 daily tasks that climaxes with a suggestion that the participant commit suicide on the last day of the competition.

While no one seems to have found much tangible evidence of the so-called Blue Whale Challenge, two families in the U.S. — including one in San Antonio — have said this week that their teens killed themselves because of their participation.

According to his father, Jorge Gonzalez, 15-year-old Isaiah was found hanging from his closet Saturday, with a cell phone propped nearby, broadcasting to social media.

Dallas Evening News, July 11, 2017

In Northwest Arctic, a powerful tool in combating suicide: Training youths to help each other

Last month, the University of Alaska Fairbanks announced a $4.25 million initiative to tackle youth suicide in Alaska Native communities, with a focus on resilience and solutions.

But one program in the Northwest Arctic Borough School District has focused on this type of community-based prevention since its start in 2008, and it now has been showing results.

Promoting peer-to-peer mentoring, the school district’s Youth Leaders Program engages students and their communities, challenging them to come up with solutions to bullying, isolation and suicidal tendencies.

In the years since the program’s start, the school district has seen a dramatic drop in student suicides. According to Michelle Woods, the program coordinator until she retired two years ago, nine students died by suicide in 2007. By 2009, it was five.

Alaska Dispatch News, July 10, 2017

Blue Whale Challenge Encourages Kids to Commit Suicide

The Blue Whale Challenge is a game that some kids in the country are being encouraged to play. The challenge targets preteens and teens. Earlier reports indicated that the challenge began by way of a YouTube video in which an anonymous instructor begins giving assignments. In total, there are 50 assignments that become increasingly more serious over time. The tasks include things like self-harm and when the participant reaches the 50th task, they are told to kill themselves.

“Over the course of 50 days, an anonymous administrator assigns kids self-harm tasks. The challenges may start by asking kids to watch a scary movie and then grow increasingly dangerous to include acts like cutting. On the 50th day, the participant is supposed to commit suicide. The game can reach kids through social-media channels like Instagram, SnapChat, YouTube and texting,” USA reports.

Heavy, July 8, 2017

August, 2017

The story behind Logic’s powerful suicide prevention anthem 

At the VMAs on Sunday night, rapper Logic shared the stage with suicide attempt survivors as he offered an emotional performance of his anthem “1-800-273-8255,” named after the suicide prevention hotline.

The song, which features Alessia Cara and Khalid, begins from the perspective of someone calling the number — known as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline — and confessing that they “don’t want to be alive.”

Ultimately, the song delivers a message of hope — the second verse features the lyrics “You don’t gotta die, I want you to be alive,” told from the perspective of the person offering emotional support at the other end of the line. 

The song’s final lyrics find the caller determined to keep fighting: “The lane I travel feels alone / but I’m moving ’til my legs give out / and I see my tears melt in the snow / but I don’t wanna cry / I don’t wanna cry anymore / I wanna feel alive / I don’t even wanna die anymore.” ‘1-800-273-8255’

The Washington Post, August 28, 2017

After A Suicide, Sibling Survivors Are Often Overlooked

When Taylor Porco’s brother, Jordan, died by suicide during his freshman year of college in February 2011, people told her to be strong for her parents, who were incapacitated by their grief. Hardly anyone seemed to notice that Porco, only 14 at the time, was suffering and suicidal.

“I was really depressed and in such extreme pain. Nothing, literally, mattered to me after he died. All I wanted was my brother back. I never loved someone as much as I loved him,” she says.

Porco’s experience is hardly unique. Approximately 25,000 people each year become sibling survivors of suicide, according to the support group, Sibling Survivors of Suicide Loss. Those who lose a sibling to suicide at any age can experience anger, complicated grief reactions, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and thoughts of taking their own lives.

Shots/Health News from NPR, August 25, 2017

Quad-City documentary focuses on teen suicide, will be broadcast on TV

Mickle Communications of Davenport has created a prime-time special “If You Only Knew: The Journey Through Teen Depression and Suicide.”

“If You Only Knew” features families who have lost children to suicide, as well as a young woman who attempted suicide several times as a teenager then later found the help she needed. The original documentary first aired on WQPT in March 2016. It was nominated for a Mid-America Emmy, and is available on iTunes, Google Play and Amazon (free with Amazon Prime).

Quad City Times, August 20, 2017

Guns Play Oversize Role in Rural Suicides

Suicide rates are higher in rural counties, according to a new study, and the reason is firearm use by men.

The report, in the American Journal of Public Health, used data on 6,196 suicides of Maryland residents over age 15. They found that the rate of firearm suicides was 66 percent higher in the most thinly populated counties than in metropolitan areas with populations greater than a million. Non-firearm suicide rates in rural and urban counties were roughly the same.

The New York Times, August 17, 2017

Preventing Teen Suicide: What the Evidence Shows

Rates of teen suicide continue to rise, federal health officials reported this month, with rates for girls higher than at any point in the last 40 years. A rational response would be to engage in evidence-based measures to try to reverse this course. Too often, we assume that there’s nothing we can do.

Sometimes, we even make things worse.

Suicide rates were even higher in the 1990s. But from 2007 to 2015 rates rose from 10.8 to 14.2 per 100,000 male teenagers and from 2.4 to 5.1 per 100,000 female teenagers. In 2011, for the first time in more than 20 years, more teenagers died from suicide than homicide.

But these trends have been known for years. Our response to them hasn’t adequately acknowledged their progression.

The New York Times, August 17, 2017

Precision Medicine for Preventing Suicide

Researchers developed personalized blood tests for different subtypes of suicidality that they have newly identified and for different psychiatric high-risk groups. 

A research team led by scientists at the Indiana University (IU) School of Medicine say they have created a novel method for diagnosing suicide risk by developing blood tests that work in everyone as well as more personalized blood tests for different subtypes of suicidality and high-risk groups.

The researchers also demonstrated how two apps—one based on a suicide-risk checklist and the other on a scale for measuring feelings of anxiety and depression—work along with the blood tests to increase the precision of tests and to propose potential lifestyle, psychotherapeutic, and other interventions. The team also noted that they were able to identify a series of medications and natural substances that could be developed for preventing suicide.

Their study (“Precision Medicine for Suicidality: From Universality to Subtypes and Personalization”) is published in  Molecular Psychiatry.

We sought to investigate whether blood gene expression biomarkers for suicide (that is, a ‘liquid biopsy’ approach) can be identified that are more universal in nature, working across psychiatric diagnoses and genders, using larger cohorts than in previous studies. Such markers may reflect and/or be a proxy for the core biology of suicide. We were successful in this endeavor, using a comprehensive stepwise approach, leading to a wealth of findings,” write the investigators.

GEN, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News, August 15, 2017

Suicides under age 13: One every 5 days

One day after school in January, 8-year-old Gabriel Taye returned to his Cincinnati home and hanged himself with a necktie, his family’s attorney says.

His mother, Cornelia Reynolds, found his body that afternoon in his bedroom. His family sued his school district last week, alleging that he’d been bullied and that the school didn’t inform his relatives.

“Gabriel was a shining light to everyone who knew and loved him,” his mother said in prepared statement released to the news media. “We miss him desperately and suffer every day.”

Suicides among US children under 13 are rare, but perhaps more frequent than you think. And 8 is hardly the youngest.

From 1999 through 2015, 1,309 children ages 5 to 12 committed suicide in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

Crossroads Today, ABC News, August 14, 2017

Teen suicide: The ones they left behind

The memories of teenagers who died by suicide are closely guarded by those left behind.

The smiles and laughter, the shared experiences, the first days at school and the last hours spent together are beacons for families of children whose lives were cut short after ongoing struggles with mental illnesses including depression, anxiety or eating disorders.

There’s Heidi Bucklin, who died at 18, a competitive athlete whose seriousness on the field afterward melted into goofy grins with her friends.

There’s Zayne Shomler, who died at 17. He loved little things — watching ants march back to their colony, his turtle and the tiny stuffed lamb he kept close even until his death.

There’s Heather Brooker-Higgins, who died at 13. She loved to learn so much, she would spend hours studying Spanish on her school-issued tablet.

These are some of the teenagers who have died by suicide in Clark County, as long ago as six years and as recently as two months. It’s a constant and apparently escalating problem.

The Columbian, August 13, 2017

Girl Talk: Help is always available for those with thoughts of suicide

Anyone who has ever graced a public bathroom knows that after you lock the door and look around at the stall around you, chances are you are likely to encounter a vast array of graffiti.

Some classics still remain as they had in generations before us: For a good time call some random number; this person loves that person forever; and another person thinks someone else is a variety of expletives.

Sometimes there are quotes. The most profound bathroom quote I ever read was “Suicide doesn’t take away your pain; it just gives it to someone else.” I can say without a shadow of a doubt, this quote has saved my life.

According to USA Today, there is a suicide every 13 minutes in the United States. Behind every tragic loss there is a story. As someone who has openly coped with depression disorders my entire life, this is my story.

There is not a day that goes by in my life where I can say the thought isn’t there. I think with most people who have had a history with depression and suicide, they can honestly admit this. If something goes wrong, you automatically think about it. It’s not something I would act on, just a thought. If I am going to be honest about my story, I need to tell you my whole story.

Weekender, August 10, 2017

Suicide Prevention: What To Do If You Think Someone Needs Help

According to the Vermont Department of Mental Health, the suicide rate in Vermont has increased over the past 10 years. In 2014, according to the department’s data, there were more than 17 suicides per 100,000 Vermonters. The New York Times reported that the national average that year was 13 suicides per 100,000 people.

JoEllen Tarallo is the director of the Vermont Suicide Prevention Center. She says that suicide can be reduced if more people know how to support friends and family members. She offered some advice for anyone who is concerned that someone they know might be suicidal.

Vermont Public Radio, August 7, 2017

Behind the suicide of a teen track star

“What Made Maddy Run?” 

That’s the title question of a new book about a suburban New Jersey teen and track star, Madison Holleran, who committed suicide in 2014 during her freshman year at the University of Pennsylvania. The real question, though, is: What made Maddy stop?

Depression is a difficult problem to diagnose and treat, and there are probably many factors that led to this tragedy. But it is striking that, despite Maddy’s strong social network, as well as her success both academically and athletically, she felt a crushing pressure, one that’s becoming more and more common — for teenage girls, especially.

With the help of Maddy’s family, friends and teammates, who were shocked and baffled by this tragedy, espnW columnist Kate Fagan tries to recreate the last several months of her life not only through interviews with those who knew her but also by looking through all of her text messages, emails and social media posts.

New York Post, August 7, 2017

Teens are more depressed and isolated than ever because of smartphones, researcher claims

Jean Twenge, a professor at San Diego State, argues in The Atlantic this week that smartphones may be destroying a generation of teens

Today’s teens go out less, date less, and feel more depressed and suicidal, according to Twenge’s data. There’s a strong link between the amount of time they spend looking at screens and how sad they feel.

Teenagers today are more depressed, have higher rates of suicide, and hang out with friends less often than teens in earlier eras, according to one researcher, who has blamed the rise of smartphones for the problem.

Jean Twenge, a psychology professor at San Diego State, wrote in The Atlantic this week that she’s noticed a number of stark behavioral changes in teens since smartphones became popular. She argued that the rates of change are the sharpest she’s seen in researching data from the 1930s onward.

Among her findings:

  • Teens go out a lot less with friends and on fewer dates.
  • They are much less interested in driving.
  • They report feeling lonely a lot more often.
  • Rates of depression and suicide have “skyrocketed” since 2011.

The more time they spend looking at screens, the more depressed they say they feel – “There’s not a single exception” among any age group, Twenge writes.

CNBC, August 5, 2017

Out of the darkness: Youth, officials open up about suicide

Zach Ricker was into sports, especially basketball, in high school. He was a good student, getting A’s and B’s. Corinne Johnson, a classmate of Ricker’s, characterized him as a nice, almost shy guy. He didn’t talk much, she said, and when he did, you almost always had to ask him, “What?”

Johnson was also active in sports. She played soccer and was a good student. She was outspoken in class and challenged her teachers with questions. She even received a student of the month award for standing up for a bullied peer. She worked to help support herself because she was raised by a single mother and had two siblings.

Ricker and Johnson both seemed like normal, happy teenagers.

No one knew they both wanted to kill themselves. Their loved ones didn’t know they were both suffering from clinical depression and anxiety.

Since the beginning of 2012, there have been 33 suicides involving people between the ages of 13 and 25, according to the Ohio Department of Health’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. That includes 15 suicides in Allen County, eight in Putnam County, six in Auglaize County and four in Van Wert County.

The Lima News, August 3, 2017 

Suicide rate hit 40-year peak among older teen girls

The suicide rate among girls between the ages of 15 and 19 reached an all-time high in 2015 for the 40-year period beginning in 1975, according to new data from the National Center for Health Statistics.

In the shorter term, the suicide rate for those girls doubled between 2007 and 2015, the research indicates.

By comparison, the 2015 suicide rate for boys in this age group was lower than in the peak years of the mid-1980s through the mid-1990s.

FOX8, August 3, 2017

A father lost his son. Now he wants to convince society that no suicide is inevitable

Steve Mallen thinks the signs first started to show when his son stopped playing the piano. Edward, then 18, was a gifted musician and had long since passed his Grade 8 exams. Playing had been a passion for most of his life. But as adulthood beckoned, the boy had never been busier. He had won a place to read geography at the University of Cambridge and was revising hard for his A levels. At his school, Edward was head boy and popular among pupils and teachers. His younger brother and sister idolized him.

“We didn’t attach any particular significance to it,” says Mallen of what he saw as merely a musical pause. “I think we just thought, ‘Well, the poor lad’s been at the piano for years and years. He’s so busy…’ But these are the small things – the ripples in the fabric of normal life – that you don’t necessarily notice but which, as I know now, can be very significant.”

Three months after Edward stopped playing, and just two weeks after he handed in an English essay his teacher would later describe as among the best he had read, police knocked at the door of the family home in Meldreth, a village ten miles south of Cambridge. Steve Mallen was at home, alone. “You become painfully aware that something appalling has happened,” he recalls. “You go through the description, they offer commiserations and a booklet, and then they leave. And that’s it. Suddenly you are staring into the most appalling abyss you can ever imagine.”

Quartz, August 2, 2017

Mother of Bullied Girl Who Died by Suicide: Mallory ‘Had a Target on Her Back’

Mallory was an accomplished cheerleader and gymnast who family and friends say was well-liked and sociable

The family of a 12-year-old New Jersey girl who took her own life in June is planning to sue the school district she attended, saying she was relentlessly bullied for months before a “preventable tragedy.” 

The family announced Tuesday in Roseland, alongside with their attorney, that they’re suing the Rockaway Township school district because they say it did nothing to stop months of bullying that led to Mallory Grossman’s suicide. 

NBC, August 1, 2017

East Helena elementary students begin game aimed at suicide prevention

“We’ve had too many suicides in East Helena of our kids. We believe that something can make a difference for kids,” Superintendent Ron Whitmoyer said. “This is a statistically proven program.”

Elementary students in East Helena will be part of an early education game to prevent suicide by reducing behavioral problems and mental health issues.

Blue Cross Blue Shield and American Chemet provided almost $17,000 in grant funding to train Kindergarten through third grade teachers on the PAXIS Institute Good Behavior Game last month. Teachers in Kindergarten through third grade will implement the program with a goal to develop coping skills for social, emotional and behavioral challenges that will last a lifetime.

In 2014, Montana had the highest rate of suicide in the nation and has been among the top five states for 40 years, according to a report by the Montana Suicide Mortality Review Team.

Helena Independent Record, August 1, 2017


September, 2017

Experts speak about teen suicide following student’s death

A community is in mourning after the apparent suicide of a Destin teenager.

A family friend found 14-year-old Connor Bartlett’s body near Destin’s west jetty about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday after a search involving several law enforcement agencies.

Connor, a freshman at Fort Walton Beach High School, was a Destin Middle School graduate and an outstanding high school and club team swimmer.

Grief counselors were at Fort Walton Beach on Wednesday to help students deal with the loss of their classmate. Students wore blue — Connor’s favorite color — to honor him.

In dealing with the young man’s death, experts on suicide prevention are speaking out to help parents and friends better understand the circumstances that can lead to suicide.

Q92 Radio, September 30, 2017

The Media’s Role in ‘Suicide Clusters’

In the late 18th century, a deadly outbreak plagued most of Europe and resulted in an eerie trend of suicides. The culprit: a story. It was during the German Sturm and Drang literary movement that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote The Sorrows of Young Werther, a semi-autobiographical novel about a young hero who commits suicide to escape the woes induced by unrequited love. Upon its publication, a strain of “Werther Fever” surfaced; many readers suddenly dressed like Werther and wrote diaries like Werther, and several others ended their lives like Werther. This phenomenon will later be coined as the “Werther Effect” or a “suicide cluster,” which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as a chain of three or more completed suicides, often triggered by one well-publicized suicide.

The Advocate, September 29, 2017

OPI to Offer New Online Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Resources for Teachers

The Office of Public Instruction’s Teacher Learning Hub will now offer Montana teachers a program called “At-Risk: Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Role-Play Simulations”. This is being provided to the Learning Hub through the Project AWARE-MT SOARS grant funding. The project is a 12-month unlimited license contract with Kognito Interactive Programs. These courses will be available to all Montana educators, school staff, and OPI partners through the Learning Hub.

“Montana is a large, rural state with some of the highest youth suicide rates in the country. It is critical that educators not only have resources to promote mental health for our students, but that they have access to these resources regardless of where they are in our state,” said Superintendent Arntzen., September 28, 2017

‘I wanted to break the stigma’: Woman’s post about ‘looking suicidal’ goes viral

“This photo was taken just 7 hours before I tried to take my own life for the 3rd time. This photo was taken in the morning, we went for a walk and for some food with Eli. We laughed and enjoyed our time. That evening I took an overdose that left me in hospital for a week.”

When Milly Smith was a teen, she went to a doctor and admitted she thought about killing herself. But the doctor dismissed her by saying Smith didn’t “look suicidal.”

“It took a ton of courage to go there and I was in a very vulnerable state,” Smith, 24, of Hull, England, told TODAY via email. “I was crushed and felt invalidated and alone.”

The Today Show, September 26, 2017

How Teens Are Helping Other Teens With Suicide Prevention

It took two suicide attempts before a Colorado Springs teen found a reason to live and began to wonder, “What if teens hold the answer to the youth suicide problem in Colorado?”

But it was a long road before that question led to a much bigger purpose for Macy Rae Klein.

“As parents, they want to fix things. They want to kiss the wounds, they want to give Band-Aides … but with depression, you can’t just put a Band-Aid on it,” said Macy Rae, 16.

Macy Rae was only in 6th grade when her depression hit and in 7th grade when she began making plans to end her life.

“I couldn’t walk past things like bridges or sharp things without thinking how I could use it to end my life,” said Macy Rae.

CBS Denver News 4, September 25, 2017

The S Word – A Documentary about Suicide Attempt Survivors

A suicide attempt survivor is on a mission to find fellow survivors and document their stories of unguarded courage, insight and humor. She discovers a national community rising to transform personal struggles into action.

Bring THE S WORD To Your Community!

Organize a local screening of THE S WORD and gather your campus, community members and colleagues to watch the film and help raise awareness for suicide prevention. Organizers across the country are hosting grassroots events and we invite you to join them. Please note, a screening license is required for all public events and packages include a Q&A with director Lisa Klein.

“The S Word has the potential to do more for suicide prevention in one year than I have in my career. We can all learn from this film.” – William Schmitz, Jr., Psy.D, Past President, American Association of Suicidology

“The film tells untold stories in profound and original ways. It offers hope, but not by whitewashing the complexities of the lives it chronicles.  It is frank and unstinting, and beautifully filmed, too.  An important work of art.” – Andrew Solomon, New York Times Bestselling Author

The S Word, September 26, 2017

Teenage suicide is extremely difficult to predict. That’s why some experts are turning to machines for help.

In any given week, Ben Crotte, a behavioral health therapist at Children’s Home of Cincinnati, speaks to dozens of students in need of an outlet.

Their challenges run the adolescent gamut, from minor stress about an upcoming test to severe depression, social isolation and bullying.

Amid the flood of conversations, meetings and paperwork, the challenge for Crotte — and mental health professionals everywhere — is separating hopeless expressions of pain and suffering from crucial warning signs that suggest a student is at risk for taking their own life.

It’s a daunting, high-pressure task, which explains why Crotte was willing to add another potentially useful tool to his diagnostic kit: an app that uses an algorithm to analyze speech and determine whether someone is likely to take their own life.

It’s name: “Spreading Activation Mobile” or “SAM.”

The Washington Post, September 26, 2017

7 EV teen suicides in 6 weeks alarm schools

Seven East Valley teenagers committed suicide during a six-week period earlier this summer, creating a disturbing suicide cluster and a grassroots effort to do everything possible to prevent additional deaths.

The unusual suicide cluster included six boys and a girl ranging from 13 to 18 years old. Six victims hanged themselves and one death was by shooting. The deaths started on July 24 and ended on Labor Day weekend.

The teens lived within 10 to 12 miles of each other. They did not know each other, but one boy knew another boy who killed himself in May.

The victims – who lived in Chandler, Gilbert and Queen Creek – were described as high-achieving students with plenty of friends who might not fit the preconceived notion of a teen likely to commit suicide.

East Valley Tribune, September 24, 2017

Robert E. Lee HS student commits suicide after bullying

An East Texas family reached past their pain to help others just two days after 16-year-old Dylan Alvarado committed suicide due to bullying.

Alvarado was a student at Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler. He died Monday, Sept. 18. and is the second teen in East Texas to commit suicide in less than two weeks.

Alvarado’s mother, Kelly Ellis, is a nurse, a mother and the newest member of a growing group no one wants to be a part of.

Like so many nurses and mothers, she tried to be strong.

“I’m okay,” she said, as her eyes filled with tears. “Not really. To be honest, my heart’s in a million pieces. All the bullying at school has been affecting his emotional state.”

CBS19, September 22, 2017

Aurora teacher’s heartfelt lesson: Suicide is always preventable

Mary Kay Gleason doesn’t usually tell her students her family’s story of suicide loss so early in the school year.

They’re only in seventh grade, so she wants to gauge their maturity. And with the loss so fresh, she’s struggled to keep her emotions in check.

But this time, nearly three years after her daughter Kelsie took her own life at age 24, the teacher at Fischer Middle School in Aurora felt ready to speak sooner. And for good reason: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says suicide was the second-leading cause of death statewide last year among people ages 10-14 and 15-34.

“That’s you guys,” school psychologist Jake Rebus told students.

The Daily Herald, September 21, 2017

Teens risk suicide, drugs and AIDS due to gender “straitjacket”: study

Gender stereotypes put girls as young as 10 at risk of HIV/AIDS and depression, and lead boys to abuse drugs and commit suicide, a major study across 15 countries said on Wednesday.

Children around the world – in liberal and conservative cultures – internalize damaging beliefs that boys are aggressive troublemakers, while vulnerable girls need protection, at a much younger age than previously thought, the research found.

“Before this study, there was a general belief that at 10 or 11 years of age, (adolescents) were not clued into any issues around gender norms and values,” Robert Blum, director of the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute, said.

“Young adolescents do not live in the world of childhood… they live in a transitional era where they’re acutely aware of what’s going on,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Reuters, September 20, 2017

Life-Saving Post-ER Suicide Prevention Strategies are Cost Effective – Follow-up postcards less expensive, more effective than usual care: NIH study

Three interventions designed for follow up of patients who are identified with suicide risk in hospital emergency departments save lives and are cost effective relative to usual care. A study led by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) modelled the use of the approaches in emergency departments and found that all three interventions compare favorably with a standard benchmark of cost-effectiveness used in evaluating healthcare costs.

One intervention, sending caring postcards or letters following an emergency visit, is more effective and less expensive than usual care. The report appears in the September 15 issue of the journal Psychiatric Services.

National Institute of Mental Health, September 15, 2017

How To Talk To Your College-Age Kids About Depression And Suicide

School’s back in session, and parents ushering kids to college for the first time will undoubtedly deliver some emotional nuggets of advice. But they should also have a potentially life-saving talk with their kids in the first semester of college to avert a possible tragedy — suicide.

In my experience as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, parents can be naïve about both the academic and social pressures kids face in college. While we’re confident that our children will flourish and excel, it’s also important to equip them with information on the mental health challenges some college students encounter. 

Per the American College Health Association, one-third of college-aged students report being depressed to the point of being unable to function. In his book, “College of the Overwhelmed,” Harvard psychiatrist Richard Kadison says that 1 in 10 students will seriously consider suicide.

WBUR 90.9, September 13, 2017

Suicide Attempts On the Rise in US, Finds Study – Highest risk seen in socioeconomically disadvantaged young adults with mental disorders

New data confirm that suicide attempts among U.S. adults are on the rise, with a disproportional effect on younger, socioeconomically disadvantaged adults with a history of mental disorders.  

The study, by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI), was published today in JAMA Psychiatry.

“Attempted suicide is the strongest risk factor for suicide, so it’s important that clinicians know just who faces the highest risk so that we can do a better job of preventing suicides from happening,” said Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at CUMC and lead author of the study.

Columbia University Medical Center, September 13, 2017

Lawsuit Over a Suicide Points to a Risk of Antidepressants

The last dinner Wendy Dolin had with her husband, Stewart, he was so agitated that he was jiggling his leg under the table and could barely sit still. He had recently started a new antidepressant but still felt very anxious. “I don’t get it, Wen,” he said.

The next day, Mr. Dolin, a 57-year-old Chicago lawyer, paced up and down a train platform for several minutes and then threw himself in front of an oncoming train.

Ms. Dolin soon became convinced that the drug her husband had started taking five days before his death — paroxetine, the generic form of Paxil — played a role in his suicide by triggering a side effect called akathisia, a state of acute physical and psychological agitation. Sufferers have described feeling as if they were “jumping out of their skin.”

The distress of akathisia may explain the heightened risk of suicide in some patients, some psychiatrists believe. The symptoms are so distressing, a drug company scientist wrote in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, that patients may feel “death is a welcome result.”

The New York Times, September 11, 2017

Teen Girls With Smartphones Flirt Most With Depression and Suicide

A spike in the teen suicide rate parallels almost exactly the rise of smartphone use, especially among teen girls, who are the most vulnerable to cyberbullying and alienation.

On Instagram, Snapchat, and via text, the messages wouldn’t stop coming to 12-year-old Mallory Grossman’s phone. She was a loser with no friends, they wrote. One message even said, “Why don’t you kill yourself?”

Not long afterward, the 6th grader did just that, committing suicide on June 14, 2017.

Mallory’s story is a tragic part of a larger trend shaping today’s generation of teens and young adults, the post-Millennials born after 1995 whom I call iGen and describe in my book of the same name. Around 2012, more teens in large national surveys started to say they felt hopeless and useless—classic symptoms of depression. In a large, government-funded study designed to screen for mental health issues, the number of teens with clinical-level depression rose substantially between 2011 and 2015. Most troubling, the child and teen suicide rate increased sharply.

Daily Beast, September 9, 2017

Newport-Mesa is taking the lead on working to prevent teen suicides

Children committing suicide is the last thing any of us wants to think about.

But we must, for what has been called a silent epidemic is real. Every day, on average, thousands of young people try to kill themselves.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 10-to-24-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined.

There are indications that the problem is getting worse. The number of children aged 5 to 17 who were admitted to children’s hospitals because of thoughts of suicide or self-harm more than doubled between 2008 and 2015, according to research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in San Francisco in May.

Every year in Orange County alone, about 700 youth aged 10 to 19 years old require medical treatment because of self-inflicted injuries. It’s estimated that 2% die from the injuries.

Looking away and doing nothing is not an option.

Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2017

Two student suicides in two days, both following social media posts, leave Littleton community seeking answers – Arapahoe County has had eight teen suicides already this year

In the twilight, they pointed the lights of their cellphones toward the students in the center of the circle. They numbered in the hundreds, gathered in a grassy park on a school night through the power of Snapchat.

They’ve done this at least twice before when they lost friends to suicide, but this time, the loss in Littleton was double: two teen suicides in two days. Sitting on the grass as night fell, they took turns rushing to the center to remember their friends, to hug and cry, to shout and swear, and to plead for no more deaths.

On Tuesday night, an Arapahoe High School junior took his own life by jumping off a mall parking garage, and on Wednesday night, another Littleton School District student, an eighth-grader at Powell Middle School, shot himself on the grounds of nearby Twain Elementary. Both boys posted on social media just before their deaths, panicking friends who tried to help but could not save them.

The Denver Post, September 1, 2017

More teenagers commit suicide on this day in Japan than any other day of the year

Going back to school is extremely tough for a lot of Japanese students, and this can be clearly seen in the country’s suicide statistics.

In Japan, more people under the age of 18 commit suicide on Sept. 1 than any other date, according to a 2015 government white paper examining 40 years of data. The government attributed the reason to the mental pressures that students face adjusting to school life after a particularly long break. The anxiety of teens going back to school is so pervasive that there’s a Japanese term to describe them: futoko, or “people who don’t go to school.”

Quartz, September 1, 2017