News Archive: March 2022 thru Nov. 2022

November 2022

With Anxiety on the Rise, Some Children Try ‘Exposure Therapy’

A gold-standard treatment for phobias and anxieties encourages young people to follow an old and simple dictum: Face your fears.

One in 11 American children has an anxiety disorder, and that figure has been growing steadily for the past two decades. The social isolation, family stress and relentless news of tragedy during the pandemic have only exacerbated the problem.

Audrey Pirri, 16, had been terrified of vomiting since she was a toddler. She worried every time she shared a meal with family or friends, restricting herself to “safe” foods like pretzels and salad that wouldn’t upset her stomach, if she ate at all. She was afraid to ride in the car with her brother, who often got carsick. She fretted for hours about an upcoming visit to a carnival or stadium — anywhere with lots of people and their germs.

But on a Tuesday evening in August, in her first intensive session of a treatment called exposure therapy, Audrey was determined to confront one of the most potent triggers of her fear: a set of rainbow polka dot sheets.

For eight years she had avoided touching the sheets, ever since the morning when she woke up with a stomach bug and vomited on them. Now, surrounded by her parents, a psychologist and a coach in her pale pink bedroom, she pulled the stiff linens from her dresser, gingerly slid them over the mattress and sat down on top.

The New York Times, Nov. 27, 2022

Suicidal thoughts in kids were increasing likely long before the pandemic, study finds

Rates of ER visits and hospitalization among kids due to suicidal thoughts increased by almost 60% between January 2016 and mid-2021, a new study has found.

More and more kids are ending up in emergency rooms because they are contemplating suicide, a new study finds.

An analysis of Illinois emergency department data with national implications revealed that in fall 2019, there was a spike in visits from teens and younger children who were diagnosed as experiencing suicidal ideation. Researchers found another spike in fall 2020, according to the report published in Pediatrics on Nov. 14.

“One thing I want people to understand is that suicidal-ideation related emergency department visits were increasing before the pandemic,” said the study’s lead author, Dr. Audrey Brewer, an attending pediatrician at the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Another important point, Brewer said, is that “during the pandemic we saw an influx of kids from all age groups. We tend to think about anxiety and depression as being common in older kids, but a lot of those who presented to the emergency department during the pandemic were between 5 and 13.”

Today, Nov. 15, 2022 

How to talk to your teenagers about suicide, and what to do if they’re experiencing suicidal thoughts

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for ages 10-14, and the third for ages 15-19.

Asking a child directly about suicide can reduce their risk of dying by suicide.

If you are in crisis, text “HOME” to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line for immediate support.

Over the past 20 years, suicide rates in the United States have risen sharply. Currently, suicide is the second leading cause of death for teens ages 10-14, and the third leading cause of death for teens ages 15-19.

Not everyone is at equal risk: Teens involved in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems, LGBTQ+ teens, Native American and Alaskan Native teens, and teens currently or formerly involved with the military could all be at higher risk of attempting or dying by suicide. 

It’s important for parents or caregivers of loved ones to identify signs of suicide or suicidal ideation as soon as possible so they can get their kids help, says John Seeley, a professor in the School of Education at the University of Oregon.

Insider, Nov. 10, 2022

October 2022

Needs matter: Factors that increase suicide risk for college students

Regardless of sociodemographic background, college students across the country struggle with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide was one of the top nine leading causes of death for people in 2020.

Yusen Zhai, Ph.D., assistant professor of counseling in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s School of Education and director of the UAB Community Counseling Clinic, emphasizes the importance of building awareness of suicide and ways to prevent suicide.

In a recently published paper, Zhai and his co-author looked at trends and prevalence of suicide among college students in the United States during the COVID pandemic. The research found that students who struggle with food insecurity are at elevated risk for suicide.

UAB News, Oct. 22, 2022

3 Out of 4 Teens Reported Adverse Event that Puts Them at Risk for Poor Mental Health

• About 37% of teens surveyed by the CDC reported poor mental health during 2020.

• At least 73% reported at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE).

• ACEs are associated with an increased risk of mental health problems and an increase in suicidal thoughts.

Many people have reported concern about the effects of COVID on mental health. Teenagers in particular have been affected after dealing with social distancing and missing in-person school. Additionally, many faced traumatic events during the pandemic.

Now the CDC has recently released a report about the COVID-19 pandemic and adolescents’ mental health. About 37% of those surveyed reported poor mental health during 2020. At least 73% reported at least one adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) during that time, and 12% experienced three or more.

Those who had experienced ACEs were more likely to report mental health problems and suicide attempts than those who did not.

Healthline, Oct. 18, 2022

Too Few Young People Get Mental Health Follow-Up After ER Visit

When teens and young adults go to the emergency room or are hospitalized for critical mental health issues a staggering number are not receiving quick follow-up care, new U.S. research finds.

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts looked at more than 100,000 ER visits of young people ages 12 to 27 who have private insurance. Only about 29% received follow-up care within seven days after their crisis. Less than half–just 46%–received follow-up care within that first month.

Similarly, in 95,000 youths and young adults whose cases were so severe they were hospitalized, less than 43% had after care within seven days and 67% within 30 days.

That left many young people without professional help while still vulnerable, including to risk of suicide.

Consumer Health Day, Oct. 17, 2022

Teen Suicides Jump 29% Over the Past Decade, Report Finds

Nevada saw the biggest increase; American Indian/Alaska Native teens most vulnerable overall.

Suicides jumped 29% among adolescents ages 15 to 19 over the previous decade, according to a report released Wednesday.

Adolescent suicides rose from 8.4 per 100,000 during the 2012-2014 timeframe to 10.8 deaths per 100,000 in 2018-2020, according to the new edition of America’s Health Rankings Health of Women and Children Report from the United Health Foundation. Adolescent suicides also rose significantly in 10 states. The report captures 121 health measures based on the most recently available public health data from 30 different sources.

On a state-by-state basis, Nevada, Colorado, and South Carolina saw the greatest relative increases in teen suicides during the time periods studied:

• Nevada: 82% increase (8.3 to 15.1 per 100,000)

• Colorado: 67% increase (12.9 to 21.5 per 100,000)

• South Carolina: 55% increase (8.7 to 13.5 per 100,000)

MedPage Today, Oct. 12, 2022

September 2022

Suicides are spiking among young men: The suicide rate is nearly back up to the 2018 all-time high

The nation’s suicide rate in 2021 increased for the first time in two years with the largest spike seen among males ages 15-24.

The provisional data released today shows a 4 percent rise in suicides last year. It comes as the country is still contending with the aftereffects of covid-19 disruptions and amid calls for officials to address a growing mental health crisis. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn’t speculate on what’s behind the increase, and the causes of suicide are complex, often determined by multiple factors. Those can consist of depression, family history of suicide, physical illness, childhood trauma and more.

 Experts also pinpointed issues that might aggravate that risk, such as a rise in guns in the home, loss of jobs and loved ones amid the pandemic, last year’s covid-19 spike and the influence of social media on teens, our colleague Lenny Bernstein reports.

The Washington Post, Sept. 30, 2022

Can Smartphones Help Predict Suicide?

A unique research project is tracking hundreds of people at risk for suicide, using data from smartphones and wearable biosensors to identify periods of high danger — and intervene.

In March, Katelin Cruz left her latest psychiatric hospitalization with a familiar mix of feelings. She was, on the one hand, relieved to leave the ward, where aides took away her shoelaces and sometimes followed her into the shower to ensure that she would not harm herself.

But her life on the outside was as unsettled as ever, she said in an interview, with a stack of unpaid bills and no permanent home. It was easy to slide back into suicidal thoughts. For fragile patients, the weeks after discharge from a psychiatric facility are a notoriously difficult period, with a suicide rate around 15 times the national rate, according to one study.

This time, however, Ms. Cruz, 29, left the hospital as part of a vast research project which attempts to use advances in artificial intelligence to do something that has eluded psychiatrists for centuries: to predict who is likely to attempt suicide and when that person is likely to attempt it, and then, to intervene.

The New York Times, Sept. 30, 2022

“You’re not alone”: Suicide attempts among teen girls increased 50% during pandemic, CDC finds

Bethlehem, Connecticut — Emma Wanstall has learned it’s OK to ask for help. The 18-year-old former cheerleader started treatment for her mental health in July after she fell into a deep depression during the pandemic. 

“It got to the point where I overdosed,” she said. “I was planning on going to bed that night and not waking up in the morning.” 

At first, Wanstall struggled opening up to her parents about her mental health, saying she felt like it would “make them feel they failed as a parent.” 

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among people aged 15 to 24 in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Since 2019, the number of teenage girls who have been suicidal has increased 50%, according to the CDC.

Samantha Quigneaux, a family therapist at Newport Healthcare, said it’s getting worse because of “the pressure of the return to normalcy.” 

CBS Evening News, Sept. 23, 2022

Higher Risk of Suicide Observed in Adolescents Suffering from Nightmare Distress

Insomnia, Nightmares & Depression in Adolescents: Experiencing a nightmare is a common phenomenom, particularly among the general adolescent population. Various consequences have been linked to nightmares and can have a severe impact on mental health, even leading to increased risk of suicide.

The experience has been characterized as dysphoric, frightening, or disturbing dreams that can inflict intense irritability and lead to disrupted sleep. As the prevalence of nightmares experienced by an individual increases, so does their vulnerability for insomnia, daytime sleepiness, anxiety and depressive symptoms, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), behavioral problems, and impaired psychosocial function.

While previous evidence has shown that adults with major depressive disorder (MDD), bipolar disorders, or schizphrenia encounter this dysphoric dream state more frequently than the general population, there’s a lack of evidence when it comes to adolescents with MDD.

HCPLive Network, Sept. 23, 2022

August 2022

‘The Best Tool We Have’ for Self-Harming and Suicidal Teens

Studies indicate that dialectical behavior therapy offers greater benefits than more generalized therapy. But treatment is intensive, and expensive.

Parents seeking therapy for teenagers who self-harm or suffer from anxiety, depression or suicidal thoughts face an imposing thicket of treatment options and acronyms: cognitive behavioral therapy (C.B.T.), parent management training (P.M.T.), collaborative assessment and management of suicidality (CAMS), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) and others.

Each approach can benefit a particular subset of people. But for teenagers at acute risk for self-harm and suicide, health experts and researchers increasingly point to dialectical behavior therapy, or D.B.T., as an effective treatment.

“As of this moment, it’s probably the best tool we have,” said Michele Berk, a child and adolescent psychologist at Stanford University.

The New York Times, August 27, 2022

Children’s Risk of Suicide Increases on School Days

Unlike in adults, suicide risk among children is lowest during the summer and higher during the school year. Understanding these patterns can help prevent and treat suicidality.

Pediatricians, child psychologists and psychiatrists, social workers and pediatric emergency teams know something that many people who care for children don’t: we are much busier during the school year. I’m a full-time emergency psychiatrist who works at a major children’s hospital, and often when children come in for a mental health crisis, one of the main stressors they discuss is school.

I’m sure most people assume I commonly prescribe medications as a physician, but one of my most common “prescriptions” is advocating for reducing school burden and load. In a 2013 American Psychological Association survey, 83 percent of adolescents stated that school was a cause or significant source of stress. 

Scientific American, August 22, 2022

How easy access to guns at home contributes to America’s youth suicide problem

School shootings in the U.S. are national tragedies, and the toll they take in lives cut short and traumatized distinguishes the U.S. from other high-income countries. But there is another way that guns are killing American children, and in far greater numbers: suicide.

Between 2011 and 2020, the most recent decade for which data is available, 14,763 children ages 5-17 died by suicide in the U.S. – a rate of approximately four deaths every day. Over 40% of these suicides involved a firearm. The great majority of guns involved in youth suicides come from the victim’s home or the home of a relative.

As scholars who have studied firearm violence and suicide prevention, we know the exceptionally high rate of gun suicides by U.S. youths is directly linked to the easy access many young people have to guns in and around the home.

The Conversation, August 17, 2022

Youth mental health is in crisis. Are schools doing enough?

For fourth-grader Leah Rainey, the school day now begins with what her teacher calls an “emotional check-in.”

“It’s great to see you. How are you feeling?” chirps a cheery voice on her laptop screen. It asks her to click an emoji matching her state of mind: Happy. Sad. Worried. Angry. Frustrated. Calm. Silly. Tired.

Depending on the answer, Leah, 9, gets advice from a cartoon avatar on managing her mood and a few more questions: Have you eaten breakfast? Are you hurt or sick? Is everything OK at home? Is someone at school being unkind? Today, Leah chooses “silly,” but says she struggled with sadness during online learning.

At Lakewood Elementary School, all 420 students will start their days the same way this year. The rural Kentucky school is one of thousands across the country using the technology to screen students’ state of mind and alert teachers to anyone struggling.

AP News, August 17, 2022

The Concerns Looming Over The 988 Mental Health Hotline

Dialing for help in a mental health crisis just got shorter. Now, Americans can dial 988 for assistance in an emergency instead of a previous 10-digit number directing them to the national suicide prevention hotline.

The Biden administration is giving local call centers $432 million to beef up support via additional staffing and Spanish-speaking agents.

Some concerns have emerged during the service’s rollout. There are questions about how centers will continue to fund these efforts long-term after the initial funding runs dry. Questions about police intervention have mounted, especially in the queer and Black communities.

NPR, August 16, 2022

$5.3 Million in Grants Awarded to Address Youth Mental Health Crisis

Inaugural recipients will use funds to support infrastructure, student mental health, and programs for children with behavioral challenges.

Three organizations dedicated to helping address the youth mental health crisis in the United States will be awarded $5.3 million in grants.

The inaugural recipients include The Jed Foundation, the National Alliance of Healthcare Purchaser Coalitions’ Path Forward initiative, and the Think:Kids & Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) partnership.

The Jed Foundation, which focuses on emotional health support and suicide prevention for adolescents and young adults, plans to use the grant funds to create more partnerships with high schools, colleges, and universities in support of student mental health.

“We are extremely grateful to receive The Goodness Web’s inaugural grant that fortifies and expands our ability to increase our programming to support youth mental health and suicide prevention nationwide,” said JED CEO John MacPhee in a press release. 

“Our goal is to partner with more than half of the country’s colleges and universities and more than 1000 high schools to implement a mental health culture of caring that improves well-being and reduces risks for suicide for their more than 13.2 million students.”

Psychiatric Times, August 8, 2022

Suicide Rate Is Spiking Upwards in Preadolescent Children

In the past two decades, a growing number of preteens have taken medicines or other chemicals as a way to end their lives, new research warns.

The mental health of children has become a big talking point in light of the pandemic, but the study data showed the problem has been percolating for years: There has been a 4.5-fold increase in suicidal ingestion cases among children between the ages of 10 and 12 since 2000.

Study co-author Dr. David Sheridan, a pediatric emergency room doctor at Oregon Health and Science University, said mental health concerns are a growing issue in emergency department patients.

“We’ve just seen rapidly escalating numbers of adolescents coming in with suicidal thoughts. And it seems like we’ve been seeing younger patients as well,” Sheridan said.

To verify this anecdotal information, the researchers turned to data collected in the National Poison Data System for children aged 6 to 18. The cases were coded to show whether it was a suspected suicide attempt or recreational misuse or abuse of a drug or chemical, as well as the final outcome in each case.

Consumer Healthday, August 8, 2022 

July 2022

If the Kids are Not All right, Neither are Working Caregivers

By now we’ve all seen the headlines about the youth mental health crisis. We’ve likely even seen the effects in our own families, whether from the ongoing impact of social isolation, or from anxiety, depression, and trauma induced or exacerbated by the spate of gun violence and racial violence in our communities.

While roots of the pediatric mental health crisis existed well before the pandemic, rates of clinical anxiety and depression among youth have doubled in the past two years. And suicide-related mortalities among children and adolescents are rising at an alarming rate. New legislation, from anti-LGBTQ+ laws to barriers to abortion access, continue to fuel this mental health crisis among teens and families.

It’s critical to act now to support children and families in the midst of the “hidden” pandemic that we’re experiencing: the youth mental health crisis. We must do so not only to help our kids become healthier and happier but also to maintain the health of corporate America.

Fast Company, July 19, 2022

Everything to know about the new crisis hotline, 988

A new three-digit dialing code, 988, has been designated to route calls and texts to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It launched over the weekend, on July 16.

The hotline, whose existing number will remain in operation, will expand to help callers more broadly in emotional distress. The launch has been funded in part by Health and Human Services.

“What’s been really cool out of this is actually that a lot of the states have used the funding to implement mental health crisis response teams,” vice president of clinical operations for NeuroFlow Matt Miclette, R.N., told Fierce Healthcare. NeuroFlow offers tech-powered engagement tools for providers, including a platform that will show the 988 number in two separate places for patients.

In the past, NeuroFlow had to work with law enforcement to respond to emergency situations. Now, many states are enacting legislation related to 988 like establishing mental health crisis response teams for referrals instead. “The best thing about that is we’re limiting the amount of police encounters,” Miclette said. 

Fierce Healthcare, July 18, 2022

Change of National Suicide Prevention Lifeline Number to 988

“The need for quick, easy, and reliable access to emotional support and crisis counseling in the United States has never been greater. The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the stressors faced by Americans. Too often, such stressors result in suicidal and mental health crises,” said Tom Coderre, acting assistant secretary for mental health and substance use and the interim head of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). This is why the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-275-TALK (8255)) change to 988 cannot come at a more opportune time.

According to Hannah Collins, Director of Marketing and Communications at Vibrant Emotional Health, the administrator of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a direct 3-digit line to trained counselors can open the door for millions of Americans to seek the help they need, while sending the message to the country that healing, hope, and help are happening every day.

Psychiatry Advisor, July 8, 2022

Young people’s mental health is getting worse but mindfulness training isn’t the answer, large UK study suggests

There is a crisis in teen mental health, and schools in many countries are exploring different ways to make young people more resilient.

However, a UK-based research project, the largest of its kind on the subject, has suggested mindfulness training in schools might be a dead end — at least as a universal, one-size-fits-all approach.

The study, which involved 28,000 children, 650 teachers and 100 schools, looked at the impact of mindfulness training over an eight-year period and found that the technique didn’t help the mental health and well-being of adolescents ages 11 to 14. The authors suggested investigating other options to improve adolescent mental health.

“Adolescence is an absolutely crucial time of development,” said Willem Kuyken, the Sir John Ritblat Family Foundation Professor of Mindfulness and Psychological Science at the University of Oxford and one of the lead researchers involved in the project. “The brain goes through important and fundamental changes in adolescence that set the trajectory for people’s lives.”

CNN Health, July 12, 2022

Debunking myths about suicide helps encourage compassion and understanding

Sometimes people who die by suicide get branded as selfish, depressed or attention-seeking.

Such myths contribute to the stigma that can prevent those who are suicidal from seeking the help they need and falsify understanding of the motivations behind suicide, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI.

Suicide is a leading cause of death among children and adults, with nearly 800,000 people worldwide dying from suicide yearly, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017, cited by the online scientific publication Our World in Data. In 2020, there were 1.2 million attempts globally, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says.

People considering suicide might show signs early on. Here’s what to watch for

Awareness of the realities of suicide can help people view these deaths with more understanding and compassion, realize the importance of helping others get help and address their own mental health problems if they are struggling, NAMI says.

CNN Health, July 16, 2022

Before Heading to College, Make a Mental Health Checklist

Students should not wait until they are on campus to begin thinking about how to protect their emotional well-being, experts

As fall approaches, new students will arrive on college campuses toting all kinds of things: luggage and school supplies, mini fridges and sports equipment. But in the midst of the preparation for move-in day, many have not considered what tools they will need to support themselves emotionally.

In other words, what can they do to protect their mental health?

In a 2017 survey of more than 700 parents and guardians, over 40 percent said they did not discuss the potential for either anxiety or depression when helping their teenagers prepare for college or postsecondary school. In addition, most of the caregivers said mental health services on campus were not a priority when choosing a school.

But a large number of teenagers are struggling. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 3 high school students experienced persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in 2019, representing a 40 percent increase since 2009.

The New York Times, July 8, 2022

June 2022

AAP Blueprint for Youth Suicide Prevention: A Roadmap

In February of 2021, the AAP, NIMH, and the AFSP convened, along with over 100 clinicians, a workgroup with a shared goal and dream of compiling a roadmap for youth suicide prevention, and in March of 2022, the AAP Blueprint for Youth Suicide was released. 

This comprehensive body of work provides clinical pathways, initiatives for community partner collaborations, resources, and advocacy materials. Additionally, there is an extensive section on the epidemiology of youth suicide informed by a health equity lens. The panelists share the story of the creation of the Blueprint along with practical information on the navigation of the site.

Today we are joined by Dr. Lisa Horowitz, Dr. Christine Moutier, and Dr. May Lau

Pediatric Meltdown with Lia Gaggino, podcast

New Data Reveals Massive Spike in Self-Harm, Suicide Calls Among Adolescents

The Washington Poison Center analyzed call data between 2019 and 2021 and found that reports of self-harm and suicide by adolescents jumped by 58 percent.

June 16, 2022 – While reviewing data from the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers from the Washington Poison Center (WAPC) found that there was a substantial increase in reports of self-harm and suicide among the adolescent population.

Operating since 1956, WAPC is a nonprofit organization that assists residents of Washington state with calls related to poisoning and toxic exposures. WAPC also helps public policymakers and health leaders by providing resources that display public health trends.

While reviewing calls made to the center from 2019 to 2021, WAPC researchers reported that the increase in suicidal adolescents, a trend that began before the pandemic, continued. Within this three-year period, there was a 58 percent increase in 6 to 12-year-old patients reporting suicidal thoughts.

Health IT Analytics, June 16, 2022

Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk for suicide prevention kicks off from Intrepid Museum

Hundreds of people are took part in an overnight walk in Manhattan in the fight against suicide.

The Out of the Darkness Overnight Walk kicked off from the Intrepid Museum on the West Side on Saturday night.

As CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock reported, the walk takes place in one night with one goal — stop suicide.

The cause is especially important for CBS2’s Cindy Hsu.

“I attempted suicide seven years ago, and there are so many people who are suffering from mental illness in silence, and so we need to talk about depression and bipolar and everything else and just normalize it because we’re not alone,” Hsu said.

Saturday night’s walk was a testament to that. Hsu along with 1,800 others whose lives have been affected by suicide walked 18 miles. Some wore t-shirts to remember those lost. Many wore honor bead symbolizing why they walk.

Hsu was the honor bead ceremony speaker and participated in the walk, wearing green beads to symbolize a personal struggle.

“My godbrother and I lost somebody that I love,” said Roland Brown, of Cambria Heights.

CBS News, June 5, 2022

Firearm suicide among America’s youth has hit its highest rate in 20 years, report finds

As the debate over gun policy has once again moved to the forefront following a string of mass shootings, a new report by Everytown for Gun Safety is shedding light on another aspect of gun violence impacting children: suicide. 

The report, published on Thursday, found that the rate at which children, teens and young adults are dying by suicide by use of a firearm has increased faster than any other age group over the past decade. According to the group, firearm suicide among ages 10 to 24 is at its highest rate in more than 20 years. 

From 2019 to 2020 alone, while the rate of firearm suicides increased by 2% as a whole, the rate among ages 10 to 24 increased by 15%. 

CBS News, June 2, 2022

A Growing Number of Young People Are Attempting Suicide by Self-Poisoning

Suicides among young people have been on the rise for a long time. Among 10 to 24 year olds, overall rates of deaths by suicide in the U.S. increased 57% from 2000 to 2018, according to federal data. Now, a new study published in the journal Clinical Toxicology has looked more closely at a particular method of attempted suicide—self-poisoning—and turned up some disturbing results: From 2015 to 2020, suicide attempts by ingesting toxic substances or overdosing on medications soared by 26% among people ages 6 to 19.

The research, led by Dr. Jennifer Ross, a medical toxicologist at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, relied on figures from the National Poison Data System, which aggregates information from the country’s 55 state and territorial poison control centers. From 2015-2020, there were 514,350 calls to poison control centers involving children ages 6-19 who, according to the control centers’ guidelines for suspected suicide attempts, had “an exposure resulting from the inappropriate use of a substance for self-harm or self-destructive” reasons.

TIME, June 1, 2022

May 2022

Families of college students who died by suicide unite for ‘powerful moment’ of healing

College suicide is a leading concern among mental health experts. Families who lived through it share their stories.Families with a shared nightmare — the death of their college students through suicide — hope their stories can prevent more loss.

On Tuesday, the parents of college athletes Katie Meyer, Arlana Miller, Morgan Rodgers and Tyler Hilinski spoke to TODAY about the legacy of their children.

“It’s a powerful moment for all of us to be together,” Gina Meyer, the mother of Katie, tells NBC correspondent Stephanie Gosk on TODAY. 

Gina and Steven Meyer’s 22-year-old daughter was a soccer goalie at Stanford University in California, where she studied international relations and history. In March, Katie died of suicide. 

At the time, Gina told NBC News that the “horrific” ordeal was “a parent’s worst nightmare” and there were “no red flags” about their daughter’s mental health. Still, her parents have wondered whether Katie struggled under academic and sports commitments. 

Although there are risk factors for suicide (substance abuse, depression, anxiety disorders are several listed by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention), experts say there aren’t clear warning bells. As Julie Cerel, a licensed clinical psychologist at the University of Kentucky previously told NBC News, “Suicide doesn’t discriminate.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34.

TODAY, May 31, 2022

Prevalence of preteen suicide has more than doubled in 11 years: ‘Concerningly high’

The fifth leading cause of death among preadolescents

The prevalence of preteen suicide has more than doubled in 11 years, an alarming trend that researchers say needs urgent study in order to prevent such tragedies.

In 2008, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death among preadolescents, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By 2019, the most recent year for which statistics were available, it was the fifth, causing the National Institute of Mental Health to identify it as a priority for research and intervention.

“To me, that just seemed concerningly high, especially considering their age,” said Richard Liu, an associate professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School and one of the authors of a new article on the subject in JAMA Psychiatry.

Although a substantial number of studies have focused on self-injurious thoughts and behaviors (SITBs) in adolescents and adults, the amount of research on SITBs in children 12 or younger is slim, Liu and his co-authors found.

In the case of suicidal thoughts and behaviors, this is due in part to the long-held belief that preadolescent children don’t have the cognitive capability to understand the nature of death — and so they’re incapable of thoughts or acts of suicide.

“If a child says they’re going to kill themselves, quite often people say, ‘Oh, they don’t really mean what they’re saying,’” said Liu, director of suicide research in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital. “It’s just hard to fathom children that young having these kinds of thoughts and experiences.”

Boston Herald, May 30, 2022 

Young Advocates Lead Effort to Curb Campus Suicide

When the campus alert system at the University of California at Los Angeles notified students of a possible shooter this February and directed them to shelter in place, senior Meera Varma found herself surrounded by frightened students.

She told the alarmed undergrads hunkered down in the dorm it was OK to be scared – a technique she’d learned in a mental health training.

“Residents told me they were really nervous, they didn’t know what to do,” said Varma, a resident advisor at the dorm.

“I validated their feelings and told them you’re not alone in feeling scared. I told them I appreciated that they trusted me and wanted to come to me.” She then assured them that she could refer them to the counseling center once the danger was over.

The tool that Varma used, which goes by the acronym VAR – Validate, Appreciate, Refer – was created by a national mental health organization for students called Active Minds. The group teaches thousands of students the crisis intervention technique each year in 600 campus chapters.

 Center on Media Crime and Justice at John Jay College, May 23, 2022

Are TikTok Algorithms Changing How People Talk About Suicide?

Social media users have adopted terms like unalive to avoid platform censorship. But not using the word suicide can stigmatize it. KAYLA WILLIAMS HAS never said the word “suicide” on TikTok, even though she uses the platform to discuss mental health issues with her 80,000 followers. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the 26-year-old student from Berkshire, England, has posted multiple videos about suicidal ideation and her stay in a psychiatric ward.

 Some of these clips are lighthearted, others far more serious. Yet Williams does not utter the word “suicide” to her front-facing camera, or type it in her captions, for fear the TikTok algorithm will censor or remove her content. Instead, she uses the word “unalive.”

The hashtag #unalivemeplease has 9.2 million views on TikTok; #unaliving has 6.6 million; #unaliveawareness has an additional 2.2 million. Though #suicideprevention is a frequently used tag on the app, the hashtags #suicide and #suicideawareness do not exist—if you search for them, TikTok pulls up the number for a local crisis helpline. It’s a well-intentioned policy, initiated in September 2021, a year after a graphic video of a suicide spread across the app. 

But users have also come to fear elusive content moderation filters that seemingly suppress or remove videos discussing death, suicide, or self-harm.

Wired, May 27, 2020

Guns in the Home Raise Suicide Risks for Teens

Teens who have access to guns are at a higher risk for suicide or suicide attempts, new research shows.

Compounding the situation, about one-third of all U.S. adolescents coming to the emergency department for any reason have moderate or severe depressive symptoms, suggesting high mental health needs among this population, the study authors said.

And more than 40% of those depressed teens have access to a gun, the researchers found.

“Our findings underscore the importance of screening all adolescents who present to the emergency department for suicide risk and access to firearms,” said lead study author Dr. Samaa Kemal. She is a pediatric emergency medicine fellow at Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “This is even more critical now that we are in the midst of a youth mental health crisis.”

Teens and preteens with access to guns had about 1.5 times higher odds for a prior suicide attempt or current suicidal ideation, the study found. And this was prior to the pandemic, when emergency departments saw increased youth mental health needs.

U.S. News and World Report, May 26, 2022

Preteen Suicide a ‘Worrying Trend,’ and Research Is Lacking—15% of preteens have thoughts of suicide, according to meta-analysis

While deaths by suicide among preteens are rare, they are increasing, and self-injurious thoughts and behaviors are occurring with “concerning frequency,” according to a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Among over 600 million individuals across 58 studies, the lifetime prevalence of suicide was 0.79 per 1 million children across the general population, and pooled prevalence estimates for suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and nonsuicidal self-injury were 15.1%, 2.6%, and 6.2%, respectively, among community samples, reported Richard Liu, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, and colleagues.

In addition, approximately 17% of preteens who have suicidal thoughts will later attempt suicide, they noted in JAMA Psychiatry.

“Roughly one in a million children will end up dying by suicide,” Liu told MedPage Today.

MedPage Today, May 27, 2022

Predictors of bullying, depression, and suicide attempts among youth: The intersection of race/ethnicity by gender identity


• Understanding intersectionality of race and ethnicity and gender identity and its significant association with different health-related risks among youth.

• Reveal higher risks for youth with multiple marginalized identities; Specifically, youth identifying both as Multiracial and as transgender/non-binary had significantly higher levels of depression and suicidal ideation compared to cisgender White youth.

• Provided ideas about developing prevention and interventions that use intersectional approaches in practice and school environment.

ScienceDirect, August 2022

CDC: 64.1 Percent of Violent Deaths in 2019 Were Suicides

In 2019, most violent deaths were suicides, which occurred more often in males than females, according to research published in the May 20 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Rebecca F. Wilson, Ph.D., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues analyzed data from the CDC National Violent Death Reporting System for 50,374 fatal incidents involving 51,627 violent deaths that occurred in 42 states and the District of Columbia in 2019.

HealthDay News, May 20, 2022 

Evaluation of Suicides Among US Adolescents During the COVID-19 Pandemic

In 2021, the American Academy of Pediatrics declared a state of emergency regarding child and adolescent mental health.1 During the COVID-19 pandemic, US adolescents have been affected by the widespread loss of primary caregivers. Suicide-risk screenings have yielded higher positive rates than during the prepandemic period2; thus, we sought to measure suicide-related mortality in this population.

These findings highlight the importance of alleviating the downstream consequences of the pandemic for adolescent well-being. Examples of interventions that may address shifting suicidality among young people in the US include expanding bereavement counseling to cope with the loss of caregivers and implementing more readily available suicide risk assessment solutions.

JAMA, April 25, 2022

Are the Kids All Right? How Series Can Better Represent Teen Mental Health on Screen

The subject of teenage depression is generally played for high-octane drama in showbiz. In 2017, “13 Reasons Why” fell under rapid-fire controversy for its inclusion of a graphic suicide scene, which was ultimately removed by Netflix. Conversely, in Hulu’s true crime miniseries “The Girl From Plainville,” the pinnacle suicide scene is kept off-camera. And then there’s “Euphoria,” HBO’s Emmy-winning, millennial-targeted juggernaut charting the disease of addiction in Rue (Zendaya), whose rampant substance abuse-cum-debilitating anxiety is punctuated by police chases, drug lords and toxic teenage love triangles.

But depression isn’t always — or even most of the time — the stuff of season-ending cliffhangers. It’s dull, weighty. It is as heavy as a rock chained to one’s ankle. In the United States, rates of adolescent depression have climbed to epidemic proportions.

Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13% of adolescents reported having a major depressive episode in 2019, a 60% jump from 2007. In 2018, suicide rates for people ages 10-24 also leapt 60%. Suicide is a leading cause of death among youth ages 10 to 19 years.

Given this catastrophic trend and in May, dubbed Mental Health Awareness month, Hollywood should consider normalizing its depiction of mental illness, centering (at least some) stories on the millions of adolescents who cope with clinical depression.

Variety, May 19, 2022

Morgan will be 22 forever. How pressure of college sports can harm athletes’ mental health.

Push through it. Tough it out. Suck it up. Shake it off. Calm down. Let’s go, let’s go!

And, of course, there’s “snap out of it.”

Those last four words may have worked well for Cher and Nicolas Cage in “Moonstruck,” but it’s just another troublesome phrase to high school and collegiate student-athletes when they are struggling to balance their mental health with the demands of academics, social life and excelling in competitive sports – training, conditioning, practice, travel and games.

Whether it’s challenging phrases, team culture, personal expectations or the self-imposed pressure to perform at a high level, “elite” athletes are expected to adapt and control their circumstances. Anything less is, well, not acceptable.

For some, the anxiety, depression or other pressures become unbearable, and tragically another athlete dies by suicide. 

USA Today, May 9, 2022

Hundreds of Suicidal Teens Sleep in Emergency Rooms. Every Night.

On a rainy Thursday evening last spring, a 15-year-old girl was rushed by her parents to the emergency department at Boston Children’s Hospital. She had marks on both wrists from self-harm and a recent suicide attempt, and earlier that day she confided to her pediatrician that she planned to try again.

At the E.R., a doctor examined her and explained to her parents that she was not safe to go home.

“But I need to be honest with you about what’s likely to unfold,” the doctor added. The best place for adolescents in distress was not a hospital but an inpatient treatment center, where individual and group therapy would be provided in a calmer, communal setting, to stabilize the teens and ease them back to real life. But there were no openings in any of the treatment centers in the region, the doctor said.

Indeed, 15 other adolescents — all in precarious mental condition — were already housed in the hospital’s emergency department, sleeping in exam rooms night after night, waiting for an opening. The average wait for a spot in a treatment program was 10 days.

The girl and her family resigned themselves to a stay in the emergency room while she waited. But nearly a month went by before an inpatient bed opened up.

The New York Times, May 8, 2022

Some States Back Away From a Major Student Well-Being Survey. Why, and What It Could Mean

As schools face a student mental health crisis, some experts fear that a growing resistance to collecting data about child well-being could jeopardize key efforts to protect kids.

Florida officials notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in March that the state would no longer administer an anonymous, voluntary, biennial survey centered on issues of child well-being. Two other states—which CDC officials would not name—have had recent preliminary discussions about withdrawing from the state-level data collection, known as the Youth Risk Behavior Survey, said Kathleen Ethier, director of the CDC’s division of adolescent and school health.

“For us, the more data points we have in terms of health and well-being, including mental health, the better positioned we are to try to understand and try to respond to the mental health crisis that we are seeing in this country among young people,” Ethier said. “Data isn’t the only answer, but without the data, we are in the dark.”

Education Week, May 5, 2022

April 2022

Blueprint for Youth Suicide Prevention

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, youth suicides were, sadly, on the rise. Among youth in the United States, more than 25% who die do so from suicide.

During the pandemic, in May 2020, hospital emergency department (ED) visits for suspected suicide attempts began to increase among adolescents aged 12 to 17 years, especially in adolescent girls. From February 21 to March 20, 2021, suspected suicide-attempt ED visits were 50.6% higher among girls aged 12 to 17 years than during the same period in 2019. Among boys in the same age range, suspected suicide-attempt ED visits increased 3.7%.

In 2021 the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP), in collaboration with experts from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), created a “Blueprint for Youth Suicide Prevention.” This blueprint is designed to support pediatric health clinicians in advancing equitable youth suicide prevention strategies in all settings in which youth live, learn, work, and spend time.

Psychiatry Advisor, April 29, 2022

Study shows how mental health issues take a toll on college students

To say that college years are a time of great change is an understatement; whether you stay at or close to home, or move away to a four-year university, the post–high school years are often a time of new experiences, unfamiliar responsibilities, growing pains, and learning curves. They can also be a time when some students have to navigate their own physical and mental health for the first time without parental support. 

In a new study, Lipson and her colleagues reveal just how common depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are, and how these issues take a toll on students of color unequally. The paper looks at survey data collected by the Healthy Minds Network between 2013 and 2021 from 350,000 students at over 300 campuses. It’s the first long-term, multicampus study of its kind to parse out differences in treatment and prevalence of mental health issues across race and ethnicity. The study was coauthored by Lipson and other members of the Healthy Minds Network team.

News Medical, April 27, 2022

Social Media and Youth Mental Health: How to Find Balance After Pandemic Spikes in Use

Penélope Cruz recently announced on CBS that her children aren’t allowed to use social media until they’re 16.

“I feel really bad for the ones that are teenagers now,” she said. “It’s almost like the world [is] doing some kind of experiment on them: ‘Oh, let’s see what happens if you expose a 12-year-old to that much technology.’”

Cruz may have a point.

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 90 percent of U.S. teens ages 13–17 use or have used social media.

They’re also using it more frequently.

According to 2020 data from Statista, 63 percent of U.S. parents reported that their teens used more social media than they did before the pandemic.

This rise of social media use in young people coincides with a rise in mental health concerns. Many health experts are calling it a second pandemic.

For instance, according to Mental Health America (MHA), the number of youth who experienced a major depressive episode in 2021 increased by 206,000 from the previous year.

Healthline, April 26, 2022

Adolescents accounted for larger share of suicides in many states in 2020

Adolescents accounted for a larger share of suicides across 14 states in 2020 than they did over the previous five years, according to research published Monday.

The findings were described in a research letter in JAMA Pediatrics, as medical groups and health experts increasingly sound the alarm about the soaring mental health challenges of young people.

In October, three prominent children’s health organizations declared that child and adolescent mental health had become a national emergency. The announcement followed a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which tracked emergency room visits from suspected suicide attempts before and during the pandemic.

The results showed that in February and March 2021, those visits were 50 percent higher among girls ages 12 to 17 than during the same period in 2019.

NBC News, April 25, 2022

College Athlete Suicides Highlight Need for Support, Intervention

As news of another collegiate athlete suicide hits, professionals urge anyone feeling that level of hopelessness to seek professional help immediately.

In March, Stanford University soccer goalie Katie Meyer took her own life and, this weekend, the suicide of University of Wisconsin track star Sarah Shulze was announced. Both women reportedly struggled to balance athletics, academics and daily life.

It’s a familiar struggle for college student athletes, according to Carla Schnitzlein, DO, medical director of Natchaug Hospital, part of the Hartford HealthCare Behavioral Health Network.

“For elite athletes, acknowledging mental health struggles can still be perceived as a weakness,” she explained. “There are a lot of pressures.”

Outcomes generally improve if coaches and other adults support students seeking help, such as in the case of Ohio state football player Harry Miller, who announced his retirement after suicidal intentions, noted Jennifer Ferrand, PsyD, director of well-being for Hartford HealthCare.

Hartford Healthcare, April 25, 2022

Study: Proportion of adolescent suicides rose early in COVID-19 pandemic

 Adolescents accounted for a higher proportion of suicides in the United States during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic than in the years before the global crisis, a study published Monday found.

In 14 states, the percentage of deaths due to suicide that involved adolescents rose by about 10% in 2020 compared with 2015 through 2019, data published Monday by JAMA Pediatrics showed.

People ages 10 to 19 years in the states included in the analysis accounted for nearly 7% of suicide deaths nationally in 2020, up from an average of just under 6% from 2015 through 2019, the researchers said.

Five of the states included in the analysis–Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Virginia–saw an increase in number of adolescent suicides in 2020 over the previous five-year period, according to the researchers.

UPI, April 25, 2022

‘It’s Life or Death’: The Mental Health Crisis Among U.S. Teens

One evening last April, an anxious and free-spirited 13-year-old girl in suburban Minneapolis sprang furious from a chair in the living room and ran from the house — out a sliding door, across the patio, through the backyard and into the woods.

Moments earlier, the girl’s mother, Linda, had stolen a look at her daughter’s smartphone. The teenager, incensed by the intrusion, had grabbed the phone and fled. (The adolescent is being identified by an initial, M, and the parents by first name only, to protect the family’s privacy.)

Linda was alarmed by photos she had seen on the phone. Some showed blood on M’s ankles from intentional self-harm. Others were close-ups of M’s romantic obsession, the anime character Genocide Jack — a brunette girl with a long red tongue who, in a video series, kills high school classmates with scissors.

Why are so many American teenagers feeling anxious, depressed and even suicidal? Our video looks at the science behind the teen mental health crisis. Credit: The New York Times

In the preceding two years, Linda had watched M spiral downward: severe depression, self-harm, a suicide attempt. Now, she followed M into the woods, frantic. “Please tell me where u r,” she texted. “I’m not mad.”

American adolescence is undergoing a drastic change. Three decades ago, the gravest public health threats to teenagers in the United States came from binge drinking, drunken driving, teenage pregnancy and smoking. These have since fallen sharply, replaced by a new public health concern: soaring rates of mental health disorders.

The New York Times, April 23, 2022

Why American Teens Are So Sad

The Atlantic, April 11, 2022

“The United States is experiencing an extreme teenage mental-health crisis. From 2009to 2021, the share of American high-school students who say they feel “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” rose from 26 percent to 44 percent, according to anew CDC study. This is the highest level of teenage sadness ever recorded.”

“The government survey of almost 8,000 high-school students, which was conducted in the first six months of 2021, found a great deal of variation in mental health among different groups. More than one in four girls reported that they had seriously contemplated attempting suicide during the pandemic, which was twice the rate of boys. Nearly half of LGBTQ teens said they had contemplated suicide during the pandemic, compared with 14 percent of their heterosexual peers. Sadness among white teens seems to be rising faster than among other groups.”

For a PDF of the complete article, go here.

Suicide Rate Decreases by 3 Percent for Second Consecutive Year, According to Most Recent CDC Data (Year 2020)

March 1, 2022

The CDC has released its most recent data related to suicide for the year 2020. Suicide is a leading cause of death, and according to this new data release, the suicide rate went down for the second consecutive year. 

In 2020, there were 45,979 suicide deaths; in 2019 there were 47,511 suicide deaths, a decrease of 1,532 deaths. From 2019 to 2020 the over all national U.S. suicide rate declined by 3 percent, including 8 percent among females and 2 percent among males. 

Demographic differences in suicide persist, as evidenced by increasing rates among persons aged 25-to-34-years old and 85 and older. Rates increased slightly for Blacks, NativeAmericans/Alaskan Native males and decreased for other age, race and ethnic groups.  

For a PDF of the complete article, go here.