News Archive: July, August, September 2018
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Thanks Congress for Dedicating Resources to the Fight for Suicide Prevention
On Friday, September 28, President Donald Trump signed the FY19 Labor HHS and Education Appropriations Bill. John Madigan, senior vice president of public policy for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, released this statement thanking Congressional leadership, the president and our AFSP Field Advocates:
“As the nation’s largest organization dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide, we would like to thank Congress for their work on the latest funding they have awarded to suicide prevention. Included in this appropriations bill is a $4.8M increase in funding for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK), increased funding to National Strategy for Suicide Prevention Grants, specifically grants for American Indian/Alaskan Native suicide prevention efforts, and increased funding to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for research. At AFSP we commend the appropriations language calling for research that will produce models that are interpretable, scalable, and practical for clinical implementation, including mental and behavioral health care interventions that will help reduce the suicide rate.
Suicide in the News: How Should We React?
Earlier this summer, the world lost two more celebrities to suicide. In the wake of the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, public reaction has been what you would expect, especially on social media: outpourings of grief, disappointment and confusion. Nationwide, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline number was shared and “liked” and people called the deaths “preventable tragedies.”
On one hand, engaging directly with this topic in a public forum is a step in the right direction toward reducing the stigma associated with mental illness and suicide. On the other hand, there are more productive ways of responding when suicide shows up in the news.
Parents blindsided by daughter’s tragic suicide hope her story helps save others
The home video will look so familiar to so many parents: a sweet little girl singing and dancing her way to her teen years, recognized for achievements outside the home and thoroughly cherished inside it.
But the full story of Alexandra Valoras’ life is more terrifying than familiar. Just weeks after a family ski vacation, the 17-year-old high school junior, straight-A student, class officer and robotics whiz made her bed, tidied her room and walked to a highway overpass in Grafton, Massachusetts. She jumped off the edge.
One month after 9 year-old commits suicide, community honors him with fashion show
Nearly one month after 9-year-old Jamel Myles took his life, his mother’s heartbreak still keeps her up at night.
“If it wasn’t for bullying, a lot of suicides wouldn’t happen,” said Jamel’s mom, Leia Pierce, told KDVR. She says her son was confident in his own identity, coming out to her as gay weeks before school started.
“He loved to dress himself. Like, he didn’t care if he was mismatch,” Pierce said. “He didn’t care. He felt comfortable in it. He was himself, so, I was proud of him.”
That spirit of bravery and sense of self has resonated with many in the Denver community. Saturday night, people came together to celebrate Jamel’s memory by throwing a fashion show. Models took to the runway, selling out tables and raffling off prizes to raise money for the family.
Drugs, Alcohol and Suicide Are Killing So Many Young Americans That the Country’s Average Lifespan Is Falling
Young Americans are dying in rising numbers because of drugs, alcohol and suicide, according to new federal data.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) issued its annual comprehensive health and mortality report, which analyzes trends in death rates by cause and demographic. Drugs, alcohol and suicide, the report says, have contributed to the first drops in U.S. life expectancy since 1993. While U.S. life expectancy rose from 77.8 to 78.6 years between 2006 and 2016, the trend reversed during the end of the decade, leading to a 0.3-year decline between 2014 and 2016 — in large part because of rising rates of drug overdoses, suicide and liver disease, as well as Alzheimer’s.
Death rates for Americans ages 15 to 44 rose by around 5% each year between 2013 and 2016, and drugs, alcohol and suicide are chiefly to blame, the CDC report says.
Schools try to thwart a troubling trend: childhood suicide
Doris Adhuze saw no signs on April 21, 2017, that her son planned to take his life.
Jovany, she said, was a black teen from a two-parent household known for high-fiving friends and teachers, and quietly buying lunch for students who needed one.
Still, she found him hanging from a coat hook on his closet door about 10 minutes after the 13-year-old arrived at their Fayette County home from school that day. He died in a hospital a week later.
“It’s very hard to accept,” she said recently. “One of my relatives said, ‘This has to be an accident, because black people don’t do that.’ I was angry she said it. I said, ‘Well, we’re black, and it’s happening.’ ”
Suicides among children under 18 have spiked in recent years, and no patterns have emerged to define why more young people are taking their lives. The increase is forcing schools to get more engaged in detecting anything that could be seen as a sign that a student is planning self-harm.
In recent years, schools have played a role in educating students through discussions on the subject, as well as lessons for students on detecting changes in their friends’ patterns. More recently, schools have begun utilizing technology and training teachers to spot concerning behavior and on procedures for reporting students who may be at risk. They have shown some positive results.
Opinion: Changing the dialogue around suicide
When we think of public health, we typically think about obesity, vaccines, epidemics and food inspections. We think about Surgeon General reports and the blurbs on TV after an outbreak occurs. However, there’s an issue taking nearly 45,000 lives each year on which we tend to remain silent. It’s the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, costing the country $69 billion each year. What could it possibly be? Suicide.
Suicide has increased nearly 30 percent since the turn of the century and is at an all time high. The numbers prove that it is a problem, but how might suicide be considered a public health issue?
Think for a minute about the polio vaccine. What would have happened if doctors only intervened with dying patients, rather than discovering the cause and finding a way to fix the root of the issue? Similarly, what if doctors only treated smokers’ respiratory diseases, rather than identifying cigarettes as the culprit? Even with this knowledge and the strides we have made, we, as a society, simply aren’t doing enough to implement prevention over crisis intervention in the instance of suicide.
Suicide Prevention: 5 Key Clinical Strategies for Engaging At-Risk Individuals in Mental Health Treatment
Research has demonstrated that up to 84% of adults aged 25–64 years who completed suicide saw a health/mental health provider at least once in the year prior to death (Morrison & Laing, 2011), while approximately 65% of adult suicide attempters saw a healthcare professional in the month prior to the attempt (Ahmedani et al., 2015).
However, suicide attempters and completers often have difficulty engaging in and adhering to recommended outpatient mental health treatment and often drop out prematurely and/or very quickly after initiating treatment (Alonzo et al., 2016; Lizardi & Stanley, 2010; Stanley & Brown, 2012).
1 in 3 College Freshmen Faces Mental Health Woes
More than one in three first-year college students around the world struggle with a mental health disorder, new research suggests.
“The number of students who need treatment for these disorders far exceeds the resources of most counseling centers, resulting in a substantial unmet need,” said study author Randy Auerbach, of Columbia University in New York City.
“Colleges must take a greater urgency in addressing this issue,” he said in a news release from the American Psychological Association.
In the study, researchers analyzed data collected on nearly 14,000 students from 19 colleges in eight countries – Australia, Belgium, Germany, Mexico, Northern Ireland, South Africa, Spain and the United States.
The students answered questions designed to assess their mental health and identify common disorders, such as major depression, anxiety disorder and panic disorder.
More college students seeking out counseling – but suicide still a huge problem
It’s the second-leading cause of death for collegians
The number of U.S. college students utilizing campus counseling
services has spiked during the last five years, an increase that
underscores the mental health challenges they face.
But are students getting the help they need? And how prepared are they to make the adjustment from high school to college?
Mental health advocates on Tuesday posed those questions at a
symposium hosted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia to coincide
with National Suicide Prevention Week.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death on college campuses. It’s an issue across the United States, but a particularly sensitive one in Philadelphia, where 14 University of Pennsylvania students have died by suicide since 2013.
Suicide prevention experts: What you say (and don’t say) could save a person’s life
For every person who dies by suicide, 280 people think seriously about it but don’t kill themselves, according to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
There’s not one answer to what makes someone move from thinking about
suicide to planning or attempting it, but experts say connectedness can
“Reaching out … can save a life,” said Jill Harkavy-Friedman, a clinical psychologist and vice president of research at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. “Everybody can play a role.”
Public figures including politicians, authors and actors are appealing for change in the way the country talks about suicide.
Author Ian Rankin, London mayor Sadiq Khan, broadcaster Stephen Fry and DJ Lauren Laverne are among 130 signatories to a letter calling on the nation’s media to lead the way in transforming how suicide is covered.
The letter, which has been backed by cross-party MPs and mental health organisations Samaritans and Mind, states there should be an end to the use of the phrase “commit suicide”, which suggests suicide is a crime and suicidal thoughts are a sin, even though it has not been a crime in the UK since 1961.
This outdated form of words can imply suicide is a “selfish, cowardly, criminal or irreligious act rather than the manifestation of extreme mental distress and unbearable pain”, the letter states, and proposes the alternative description “died by suicide”.
When There Is a Mental Health Crisis in Your Dorm
As colleges face criticism for asking mentally ill students to take leaves of absence, former students discuss their struggles, and their roommates and dorm mates recount what it’s like living with them.
In the shadows of dormitories and dining halls on college campuses across America, students often murmur about their classmates’ reported suicide attempts and eating disorders. And sometimes those rumors are true.
Forty percent of college students in 2018 reported feeling “overwhelmingly anxious,” while 20 percent said they felt “so depressed it was difficult to function,” according to the National College Health Assessment. Thirteen percent said they had considered suicide in the last year.
Machines know when someone’s about to attempt suicide. How should we use that information?
A patient goes into the emergency room for a broken toe, is given a series of standardized tests, has their data fed into an algorithm, and—though they haven’t mentioned feeling depressed or having any suicidal thoughts—the machine identifies them as at high risk of suicide in the next week. Though the patient didn’t ask for help, medical professionals must now broach the subject of suicide and find some way of intervening.
This scenario, where an actionable diagnosis comes not from a doctor’s evaluation or family member’s concern, but an algorithm, is an imminent reality. Last year, data scientists at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee, created a machine-learning algorithm (paywall) that uses hospital-admissions data, including age, gender, zip code, medication, and diagnostic history, to predict the likelihood of any given individual taking their own life.
In trials using data gathered from more than 5,000 patients who had been admitted to the hospital for either self-harm or suicide attempts, the algorithm was 84% accurate at predicting whether someone would attempt suicide in the next week, and 80% accurate at predicting whether someone would attempt suicide within the next two years.
Researchers look to brain images to predict who will attempt suicide
Therapists working with people at risk for suicide rely on the patient’s words to determine how serious they might be. They can’t look inside the patient’s mind to know for sure. Researchers in Pittsburgh are hoping to change that.
With the help of a $3.8 million grant from the National Institute of Mental Health, they will analyze the differences in brain scans of suicidal and non-suicidal young adults to detect those most at risk and develop personalized therapies. The ultimate goal is to use brain imaging to predict who will attempt suicide, researchers said.
U.S. Firearm Deaths By Suicide Are Staggering Compared To The Rest Of The World
Mass shootings in the U.S. get a lot of press, and rightly so. However, mass shootings and homicides aren’t the only way that people can lose their lives to gun violence. There’s one statistic having to do with firearm deaths that doesn’t get brought up as often, but it’s just as chilling — the U.S. has the second highest firearm death by suicide rate in the world, accounting for almost 45,000 people every year, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
America’s Suicide Crisis Is Worse Than We Thought
A new report says officials should be including more deaths from the country’s opioid epidemic.
Diabetes is a well-known health threat in the U.S., with rates that have reached epidemic levels in recent years. But now researchers are reporting that another scourge has surpassed it in terms of deadliness: suicides and deaths from drug overdoses.
Diabetes is officially ranked the seventh leading cause of death nationwide. Self-injury, as the combination of suicide and drug-related death is known, killed as many people as diabetes in 2014 and is continuing to accelerate. The primary consequence of this unchecked crisis will be decreasing U.S. life expectancy, said Ian Rockett, a professor of epidemiology at West Virginia University in Morgantown.
Feeling Suicidal, Students Turned to Their College. They Were Told to Go Home.
When Harrison Fowler heard about the counseling center at Stanford, where he enrolled as a freshman last fall, he decided to finally do something about the angst he had been struggling with for a long time.
The results were not what he had expected. Asked if he had ever considered suicide, he said yes. The center advised him to check himself into the hospital. From there, he was sent to a private outpatient treatment center, where he was prescribed an antidepressant that he said triggered horrible suicidal fantasies. It wasn’t long before he was back in the hospital, being urged to go home to Texas.
“No, I can’t go home,” Mr. Fowler, 19, recalled saying. “This is partly y’all’s fault for putting me on medication. I reached out for help and now I’m suddenly getting blamed for it.”
Can we save lives with a three-digit suicide prevention hotline?
In a culture that has normalized dieting and body weight fixation, it’s too easy to mistake eating disorders for a harmless phase, a voluntary choice, and just not that big of a deal. The stark reality is that eating disorders have among the highest mortality rates of any mental illness and these fatalities are often due to suicide.
With 30 million Americans of all ages and genders suffering — often silently — from an eating disorder, that is a lot of lives on the line. Fortunately, our nation’s top policymakers have just reduced one of the barriers to change, proposing an easier way to call for help.
This month, U.S. lawmakers enacted the National Suicide Prevention Hotline Improvement Act, which aims to designate a three-digit number, similar to 911, for those experiencing suicidal thoughts or dealing with broader mental health issues to connect to crisis support centers.
String of youth suicides in Rancho Cucamonga bring alarm, new focus on mental health training
After a string of suicides within the first two weeks of classes, Rancho Cucamonga school districts are refocusing their attention on mental health services and suicide prevention projects.
Four students who attended Rancho Cucamonga school districts—a
10-year-old boy, a 15-year-old girl, a 16-year-old girl and a
16-year-old boy—died by suicide from Aug. 6 to Aug. 19, officials said
“There is no greater tragedy than the death of a young person, and since the start of the school year, our Chaffey District community has been shaken by the loss of three students to suicide,” said Mathew Holton, superintendent of the Chaffey Joint Union High School District, in a message to parents.
Therapists were deployed to each school to assist grieving students and staff. A total of 18 marriage and family therapists, 54 counselors, 27 psychologists and five psychotherapists are available to students across the district’s 12 schools.
Suicide rates decline in summer and rise when school starts. Parents, teachers can help.
Jose Morales likes the excitement of the start of the school year.
Morales, who is 16 years old and will be a junior at Xavier High
School in Appleton this fall, strives to go into his back-to-school
preparations and the start of school with a positive attitude.
But as he gets deeper into the school year, he said, the stress starts to get to him.
Homework. Tests. Social drama.
When he thinks about that side of things, his feelings about the start of the year become more mixed.
“Every time the school year comes around, my mood drops,” Morales said. “And once the school year starts going, I feel less and less motivated.”
During his sophomore year at Appleton North High School, he went to the hospital when he became “too depressed” and began to struggle with suicidal thoughts.
Dodge City High School prints suicide prevention resources on student ID badges
With recent suicides among young people in Dodge City, faculty and staff at the high school say it the message they want students to know.
The high school issued students new ID badges this year. On the back, the message continues, “You have options. Help is available.”
Now, each student can also find the numbers to the National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255), the Crisis Textline (741-741) or the Trevor Project (1-866-488-7386) all on back of their school ID badges–something they wear almost daily.
A traumatic brain injury may increase the risk of suicide, study says
Traumatic brain injury is the leading cause of death and disability in young adults in the developed world. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for young people ages 15 to 24. Though the reasons for any particular suicide are often inscrutable, research published Tuesday in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that at least a fraction of the blame could be placed on traumatic brain injuries.
Researchers found that of the nearly 7.5 million people who make up the population of Denmark, more than 34,500 deaths between 1980 and 2014 were by suicide. Approximately 10 percent of those who took their own lives had also suffered a medically documented traumatic brain injury. The statistical analysis was conducted using the Danish Cause of Death registry.
Typical kid behavior or a mental-health problem? It can be hard to decide.
Many mental illnesses first manifest in adolescence. So for parents, it’s often hard to separate the warning signs of mental illness from typically erratic teenage behavior.
Mary Rose O’Leary has shepherded three children into adulthood, and she teaches art and music to middle school students.
Despite her extensive personal and professional experience with teens, the Eagle Rock, Calif., resident admits she’s often perplexed by their behavior.
“Even if you have normal kids, you’re constantly questioning, ‘Is this normal?’ ” says O’Leary, 61.
Teenagers can be volatile and moody. They can test your patience, push your buttons and leave you questioning your sanity – and theirs.
Young children with psychotic symptoms and risk for suicidal thoughts and behaviors: a research note
Suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs) are prevalent among youth with psychotic disorders (PD) relative to the general population. Recent research now suggests that STBs may present during the prodromal phase of the disease, or the clinical high risk (CHR) state.
While this knowledge is important for the development of suicide prevention strategies in adolescent and adult populations, it remains unclear whether risk for suicide extends to children with or at risk for psychosis.
The current study is an extension of previous work assessing STBs in youth across the psychosis continuum. We examine STBs in 37 CHR and PD children ages 7–13 years old, and further explore the prodromal symptom correlates of STB severity among CHR children.
Kids’ Suicide Risk Tied Parents’ Religious Beliefs
Teens, especially girls, whose parents are religious may be less likely to die by suicide, no matter how they feel about religion themselves, new research suggests.
The lower suicide risk among those raised in a religious home is independent of other common risk factors, including whether parents suffered from depression, showed suicidal behavior or divorced, the Columbia University researchers said.
The study, however, does not prove that a religious upbringing prevents suicide, only that there is an association between the two.
“Momo” Suicide Game: Teens Targeted on WhatsApp, Facebook, YouTube
Authorities in multiple countries, including the United States, have issued warnings about a new “game” spreading on social media called Momo that encourages people to physically harm or kill themselves.
The game asks Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp users to add to their contacts one of several numbers, according to CBS affiliate KXMD. The person behind the contact, known as the “controller,” then sends violent images and messages asking the person on the receiving end, or the “player,” to kill themselves and post images or videos of them doing so. The controller also often claims to know things about the player and threatens to release the information if he or she doesn’t do what the controller says, according to KXMD.
The avatar used in the game is a sculpted image of a woman with bulging eyes and a thin, creepy smile spreading from ear to ear. The work is taken from Japanese artist Midori Hayashi, who nicknamed the sculpture Momo. Hayashi is not in any way associated with the game.
In Russia, the game has allegedly been linked to at least 130 deaths, and Argentinian authorities are investigating whether a 12-year-old girl who recently killed herself was prompted to do so by the game, according to the Buenos Aires Times.
Mother Shares Son’s Suicide Story And Now Works To Help Save Others
One mother is sharing her son’s story and lives her life to prevent another life from being lost to suicide. If you know anyone suffering or you need someone to talk to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. That line is available 24/7. You can also text 741-741 for free.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Every 12 minutes, one person in this country dies as a result of self-harm. Symptoms can range from hopelessness to euphoria.
One mother is sharing her son’s story and lives her life to prevent another life from being lost to suicide.
“I believe that suicide is preventable and that there is help, there is help for all of us,” Helen Pridgen said.
In 2000, Helen Pridgen lost her son, Clay to suicide.
“Clay was outgoing through his youth up until early adulthood. He was 25 when he died, so we had a number of years to experience the person he was,” Pridgen said.
Suicide prevention on your smartphone
Suicide rates are hitting an all-time high in South Dakota. Numbers from last month show the state saw nearly a 45 percent increase in suicides. Minnesota saw a 40 percent increase and Iowa saw a 36 percent increase.
Everywhere you look you’ll see people on their phones. It provides us with easy access to not only information, but also help when we need it. That’s why in this growing social media age, apps like ‘notOk’ were designed so that support is just one touch away.
How Should the Media Cover Suicides? A New Study Has Some Answers
It’s no secret to mental health experts that exposure to suicide, either directly or through media and entertainment, may make people more likely to resort to suicidal behaviors themselves. The phenomenon even has a name: suicide contagion.
And a new paper, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, says some specific journalistic practices — such as including lots of details about a death by suicide, or glamorizing these incidents — may make suicide contagion worse.
“We’re not saying reporting on suicide is bad,” says Dr. Ayal Schaffer, a psychiatry professor at the University of Toronto and a co-author of the new study. “Our goal is not to blame journalists; it’s not to tell journalists how to do their jobs. But it is to provide a pretty strong research base to support specific guidelines about how reporting on suicide should be done.”
Media Reports of Celeb Suicides May Trigger ‘Copycat’ Tragedies
News reports on suicides may be quickly followed by a bump in suicide rates — especially if they contain details that sensationalize the tragedy, a new study finds.
The research adds to evidence of a phenomenon known as “suicide contagion.” It happens when vulnerable people identify with a person who died by suicide, and then see that route as a viable solution to their own problems.
Just last month, the deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain sparked widespread media coverage, with many stories describing details of their suicides. That was despite guidelines from various medical groups, including the World Health Organization, that discourage journalists from revealing such details.
“We’ve known for many years that media reports of suicide seem to increase rates of suicide for a time afterward,” said lead researcher Dr. Mark Sinyor, a psychiatrist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center in Toronto.
Suicide prevention method: question, persuade and refer
One of the myths about suicide, said Pam Leyda, is that once a person decides to do it, no one else can stop it.
“The fact is, suicide is the most preventable kind of death,” said Leyda. “Almost any positive action can safe a life.”
Leyda spoke Tuesday to a class of 11 people who had gathered to learn a method for preventing suicide based on three steps: question, persuade and refer. Some of those in the class had lost relatives and friends to suicide. Others were professionals from the fields of public health, media, counseling and ministry.
The educational film for the class, called Gatekeeper Training, said suicide claims an average of 75 Americans a day. Many more make unsuccessful attempts that can cause serious injury or lifelong disability.
How mental illnesses span generations and why they don’t have to
Nearly 1 in 5 American adults live with a mental illness. There has been much literature about how these disorders affect the sufferer’s well-being, but there is dismally little discussion of how the illness impacts those who rely on a mentally unstable parent for support, encouragement, and as a model of proper behavior. The truth is that these parents bequeath their children a legacy of emotional and social impairment that they will bring to their own parenting and interpersonal relationships.
In fact, a study published this year by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that the children of parents with trauma in their childhood, putting them at risk for psychological and behavioral issues, were 4.2 times as likely to be diagnosed with an emotional disturbance disorder. This implies that children of mentally ill parents have a higher risk of developing mental illnesses themselves during their lifetimes.
Congress Just Passed a Bill Establishing a National Three-Digit Code for Suicide Prevention
A bill to establish a national three-digit code for suicide prevention passed the U.S. House of Representatives with near-unanimous accord on Monday.
H.R. 2345 sailed through the House on Monday after every single Senator voted in favor of a companion bill last October. It requires federal government agencies to “perform a cost and benefit analysis of the hotline’s creation and provide recommendations to improve the overall effectiveness of the current system,” as co-author Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) said in a statement.
The 911-like hotline would be staffed with trained mental health professionals ready to assist those in crisis.
Teen’s Suicide Prevention Notes Remind People “Your Life Matters”
Police in the United Kingdom are honoring a teenager after she posted inspiring suicide prevention notes on a bridge.
According to CBS News, Paige Hunter, 18, posted notes with uplifting and supportive messages on the Wearmouth Bridge in Sunderland designed to show people contemplating suicide that they aren’t alone.
The notes included messages like “your life matters” and “you’re a shining light in a dark world,” according to CBS News. After the notes reportedly helped prevent at least six people from attempting suicide, police are commending Paige for what they called an “innovative” way to help those in need.
Young people’s mental health: we can build a resilient generation
Prevention and early intervention could halve the number of people with lifelong mental health problems. Half of lifelong mental illness starts before the age of 14. What if we could change that? What if we could tackle the causes and reduce the incidence of enduring mental health problems?
Those are the questions Birmingham University’s mental health commission has been grappling with over the past 18 months. Our report and call to action launched this month.
Around one in four children and young people who need help with their mental health get a service. By 2021, that will rise to one in three and the picture is mixed across the country. We must do more to improve access to evidence-based mental health treatment and support. But this is not sufficient.
10 Things Suicide Attempt Survivors Want You to Know
Learning from the people who have contemplated suicide can help prevent future deaths.
Part of what’s so isolating and stigmatizing about having suicidal thoughts is that many people can’t relate to feeling such all-encompassing pain. They can’t imagine a scenario in which ending one’s life would ever be an option.
To foster greater empathy and understanding for what someone who is suicidal may be going through, it’s helpful to turn to people who have been there: attempt survivors.
“If we are serious about preventing suicide, we must learn from those who have experience with suicide,” according to The Way Forward, a report by the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention. “The people with the most intimate information about suicidal thoughts, feelings, and actions are those who have lived through such experiences. We all have an opportunity to learn from those with lived experience around suicide so we can do better in the future to foster hope and help people find meaning and purpose in life.”
Youth Suicide Prevention Video for Parents
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for youth ages 15-17 and 3rd leading cause of death for youth ages 10-14. One of the most stressful challenges that parents often face is realizing that they will not always know when something is wrong with their child.
In response, several Georgia organizations have come together to produce a public service announcement (PSA) aimed at adults. The adults featured in this PSA share their stories and journey with their children who have considered or attempted suicide. These are parents, siblings, and experts who have seen this crisis firsthand and want to raise awareness for others to continuously seek help for children in crisis.
Georgia Child Fatality Review, July 17 2018
Teen suicide risk may be lower with intense team-based therapy
Adolescents who have harmed themselves or tried to commit suicide may be less likely to do it again when they participate in an intense therapy program focused on both individual and family treatment, a U.S. study suggests.
The research focused on what’s known as dialectical behavior therapy. This involves a combination of individual sessions for teens and their parents as well as family counseling. The goals include helping teens eliminate behavior that leads to self-harm, suicide, or reduced quality of life; teaching skills like mindfulness and emotion regulation; and helping teens and families change behaviors.
Predicting Suicide Attempts and Suicide Deaths Using Electronic Health Records: New model substantially outperforms existing suicide risk tools
Suicide accounted for nearly 45,000 deaths in the United States in 2016. Unfortunately, tools currently used to predict an individual’s risk of a suicide attempt or dying by suicide, such as brief self-report measures, have only moderate accuracy.
Now, researchers have developed a new prediction model that substantially outperforms existing self-report tools. The study, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), was published online on May 24, 2018, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.
A Carmel High School student’s suicide raises questions over how schools discipline kids
One year and eight months later, Chris and Marilyn McCalley are still haunted by the final hours of their 17-year-old son’s life.
They know that Patrick, then a junior at Carmel High School, left for school Oct. 6, 2016, excited about an email from the Air Force, an option he was considering after graduation.
They know sometime around noon he was called to the assistant principal’s office and told he’d be suspended over a “racially insensitive” Snapchat he sent a few friends that trivialized lynching. He signed an affidavit the school gave him, apologizing and calling it a “stupid and ignorant joke.”
They know that before 3:36 p.m., about half an hour after being escorted out of the building, Patrick decided to kill himself. He was declared dead by suicide in the hospital at 5:07 p.m. that day.
But there’s a lot they will likely never know. What prompted Patrick to take his own life? His family said he was a happy teen who avoided trouble and excelled at school.
And there is another unanswerable question on their minds: Was there something — anything — the school could have or should have done differently that might have altered what happened that day and prevent it from ever happening again?
Weeks after what would have been Patrick’s graduation day, the McCalleys are sharing their story to start a conversation about how schools can better balance mental health and discipline.
A Simple Emergency Room Intervention Can Help Cut Suicide Risk
Many people who attempt suicide end up in an emergency room for immediate treatment. But few of those suicide survivors get the follow-up care they need at a time when they are especially likely to attempt suicide again.
Now, a study shows that a simple intervention conducted by staff in emergency departments can reduce the risk of future attempts. The intervention involves creating a safety plan for each patient and following up with phone calls after discharge.
“It reduced the odds of suicidal behavior by half,” says Barbara Stanley, a psychologist at Columbia University and the lead author of the study. “That’s a phenomenal difference.”
The study, which was published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry, included 1,200 patients at five Veterans Affairs hospitals around the country. The findings offer a way for hospitals and clinics to help reduce the rising numbers of death by suicide across the country.
Teen Suicide: How to understand and reduce risk
The recent suicides of public figures like Kate Spade, as well as growing awareness of non-suicidal self-injury, have triggered conversations about how much more we need to learn about who is at risk, and how we can help prevent and treat self-harm and suicidality.
Parents of teens in particular may be thoughtful and concerned. Understanding risk factors and warning signs is among the most important things parents can do to support their teens.
In addition to knowing that mental illness, high levels of stressful life events, and a prior history of suicide attempts put individuals at risk, other psychological risk factors that we sometimes write off as “normal teen stuff” can also be warning signs.
While the storm and stress of adolescence can be expected, pay close attention to whether your teen is showing changes—more intense and frequent bouts—of irritability, sadness and depression, a strong sense of failure, major conflict with family or peers, or the major loss of loved one or experience of humiliation or shame. Researchers and clinicians are also learning more about the role of these risk factors.
Language Is Key to Easing the Stigma of Mental Illness: Public Figures Must Do Better in Their Choice of Words
It’s difficult to overstate the persistence or harm of the stigma of mental health issues for the 1 in 5 Americans who suffer from them and their families who care for them. In spite of the dedicated, long-standing work of individual activists and charitable organizations seeking to demystify and normalize mental illness and treatment, many individuals still choose to suffer alone and in silence rather than risk the shame and humiliation of being labeled mentally ill, “crazy,” or worse.
It’s hard to blame them when influential figures use powerful platforms to equate mental health conditions with such negative attributes as weakness, naiveté, and even stupidity. Just recently, Rudy Giuliani told attendees at a political rally that those doing their job of investigating President Trump are “Wackadoodles.”
He further stated, with exaggerated wide eyes and hands waving around his head, that such individuals “need a psychiatrist” and “should go to Bellevue,” a hospital in New York City with a well-known psychiatric unit.
Such comments should not be taken lightly, excused, or brushed under the rug.
Preventing Suicide Among College Students
Privacy rules that keep colleges from notifying parents of a student’s distress may be costing lives. Some solutions include granting permission in advance or having a friend alert the family.
This column is a plea to all current and future college students and their families to deal openly and constructively with emotional, social and academic turmoil that can sometimes have heartbreaking — and usually preventable — consequences.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death, after traffic accidents, among college students. For most, it’s their first time living away from home, away from the support and comfort usually provided by good friends and family members. The adjustment can be overwhelming for some students, especially those who don’t make friends easily or who have difficulty meeting the demands of challenging college courses.
Sadly, parents are often unaware of the struggles facing their college-age children, and a federal privacy law often prevents colleges from notifying parents of serious student difficulties even when faculty members and administrators know about them.
Consider the recent suicide of a Hamilton College student whose parents were unaware of his severe distress even though several professors and the dean knew he was going through “a complete crash and burn,” as one put it.