On this page we’ll be posting links to articles and information that will help our visitors gain a broader perspective of issues important to us. We will look across the wide spectrum of suicide research, adolescent brain development, and the diagnosis and treatment of depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. For more links, please see our News Archive page.
These young Americans created apps to help address mental health crisis among peers
“Campuses can’t keep up with the demand of their students.”
College campuses have seen an influx of students battling mental health disorders since the pandemic began, with about 80% saying in a Healthy Minds survey that COVID-19 had negatively affected them.
It’s a problem few schools, if any, were equipped to handle.
Founder and CEO of Grit Digital Health and the YOU at College well-being platform Joe Conrad recognizes the importance of using digital platforms to make mental health resources more accessible.
“There definitely is a mental health crisis; campuses can’t keep up with the demand of their students,” Conrad told ABC News. “I think innovation and digital support, has to be part of the solution.”
In 2016, Conrad was approached by Colorado State University after school officials saw an increase in on-campus suicides. Using a student-centered design process, Colorado State and Grit Digital Health partnered to build prototypes and asked students for feedback, which led to the creation of YOU at College.
“There are three parts to the platform–succeed, thrive and matter–but most of the resources being accessed are in ‘thrive,’ for mental and behavioral health,” Conrad explained.
How the pandemic is intensifying depression and anxiety among teenagers
Judy Woodruff: This week marks a full year since the COVID-19 outbreak was declared a pandemic. And experts are increasingly concerned about the toll it’s taking on the mental health of young people in this country.
With in person classes closed for months for many students, there also are concerns the risks of youth suicide are being exacerbated.
Stephanie Sy has this report. And a warning to underline: This story deals with sensitive subject matter. Read the Full Transcript here.
Understanding Suicidal Depression
If you experience persistent feelings of hopelessness, sadness, and helplessness, you’re not alone.
Millions of people in the United States live with depression. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health reports that over 17 million adults experienced a major depressive episode in the previous year.
While many people learn to manage daily life with symptoms of depression, there is one that requires immediate attention — suicidal ideation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionTrusted Source (CDC), suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States.
Major depression is a significant risk factor for suicideTrusted Source. However, not everyone with depression has thoughts of suicide.
If you’re experiencing depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts, it’s important to get help. With the right interventions, depression is treatable, and suicide is preventable.
‘It’s everybody’s problem’: Goal to end youth suicide unites experts, organizations
More than 130 Americans will take their lives today. In 2019, 8.9% of high school students reported a suicide attempt in the past year.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals ages 10-24 years — representing 6,488 deaths in 2019. Yet most health care settings are not screening for this risk. Improved training is needed on early identification of suicide risk, assessment, follow-up and counseling.
Those were among recommendations at the recent Virtual Summit on Youth Suicide Prevention co-hosted by the AAP, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Participants included experts in psychiatry, education, pediatrics, family medicine, research and epidemiology. They discussed ways to identify and address suicide risk, the evidence base for suicide prevention, access to lethal means, impact of media and the value of partnerships.
A suicide prevention blueprint will be released later this year.
AAP President Lee Savio Beers, M.D., FAAP, said an AAP survey pre-pandemic found 44% of pediatricians had a patient attempt or die by suicide in the previous year. Eighty percent indicated they had lost a patient to suicide at some point in their career.
“The increasing rate of suicide among children and adolescents is an incredibly serious and growing health concern,” Dr. Beers said.
My Son Took His Own Life. Here’s Why You Should Stop Saying ‘Committed Suicide.’
“I can’t bring my son back. But as a bereaved parent, I can ask one thing of the rest of the world.”
Our 21-year-old son died by suicide in 2019, a fact I tell people as soon as I can bring it into conversation, so that they’ll understand who we are as a family and as human beings. I bring the unmentionable into the light because it’s a fact of our lives, and his, that we can’t ignore or deny. I can’t bring my son back. But as a bereaved parent, I can ask one thing of the rest of the world. I can, in fact, insist.
Don’t say committed suicide. Please say, henceforth, that a person died by suicide.
We no longer presume people with schizophrenia are possessed by demons or that the chronically depressed are cursed. But suicide as the felo de se, crime against oneself, is still the ultimate taboo, even as we staff hotlines and share social media posts to prevent it. The prohibition persists.
I came into Austin’s life when he was turning 6, when his father and I started dating. We blended our family of five children, four teen girls and a wee boy, about two years later but there were bumps along the way. Blended families are complicated, mental health is complex, and childhood traumas can develop into something bigger even with therapy and interventions.
As our boy went through his teen years, he struggled with a growing sense that adults were against him, that we did not have his back, and that there were conspiracies around him. We went through some rough years but hoped, as he turned 21, that he would grow out of it. Instead, he took his own life.
My 8-Year-Old Threatened Suicide. Here’s What We’re Learning.
When the scariest parenting moment happened, I didn’t know where to turn. After months of talking with experts, we’re on the path to healing.
On a cold Friday afternoon last fall, my 8-year-old snapped. After losing a board game to his younger sister, he reached for the wooden block of knives on the counter and pulled one out. “That’s it,” he said through clenched teeth, “I’d rather be dead than play with her.”
My heart pounded. “You don’t mean that,” I said, forcing control into my voice. When I stepped closer, his face softened. He carefully returned the bread knife to its slot, then threw his arms around my waist. “I’m sorry, Mommy.” I held him and pushed the block out of reach.
When my son is happy, he’s exuberant. The first time he held his baby sister, he cried happy tears. He loves school and behaves on play dates. But when he’s mad, he can be inconsolable. Anger pours out in torrents of “I can’t do anything right” and “This is the worst day ever.” Sometimes, he stays mad for hours.
Still, the suicide talk was new — and terrifying.
For Some Teens, It’s Been a Year of Anxiety and Trips to the E.R.
During the pandemic, suicidal thinking is up. And families find that hospitals can’t handle adolescents in crisis.When the pandemic first hit the Bay Area last spring, Ann thought that her son, a 17-year-old senior, was finally on track to finish high school. He had kicked a heavy marijuana habit and was studying in virtual classes while school was closed.
The first wave of stay-at-home orders shut down his usual routines — sports, playing music with friends. But the stability didn’t last.
“The social isolation since then, over all this time, it just got to him,” said Ann, a consultant living in suburban San Francisco. She, like the other parents in this article, asked that her last name be omitted for privacy and to protect her child. “This is a charming, funny kid, also sensitive and anxious,” she said. “He couldn’t find a job; he couldn’t really go out. And he started using marijuana again, and Xanax.”
As Social Media Time Rises, So Does Teen Girls’ Suicide Risk
As the amount of time young teenage girls spend glued to Instagram, TikTok and other social media sites goes up, so does their long-term risk for suicide, a new study warns.
The finding stems from a decade spent tracking social media habits and suicide risk among 500 teenage boys and girls, the longest such effort to date, the study authors said.
“We found that girls who started using social media at two to three hours a day or more at age 13, and then increased [that use] over time, had the highest levels of suicide risk in emerging adulthood,” said study author Sarah Coyne. She is associate director of the school of family life at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah.
Among boys, however, no such pattern emerged. One reason why, Coyne’s team theorized, is that social media and young girls tend to focus on the same thing: relationships. Boys, not so much.
“We know that girls tend to feel and internalize relationship distress at different levels than boys,” said Coyne. “This type of relationship distress can – but not always – be present in social media interactions. [Girls] also have higher levels of social comparison, fear of missing out, etc. So, that is why the effects were likely stronger for girls.”
Denison ISD hosts teen suicide awareness documentary screening
Wednesday night, Denison ISD hosted a viewing of a teen suicide awareness documentary. Why educators are saying it’s important now more than ever, and when you can view the film next.
The film My Ascension is based on a true story of a Louisiana teen and her survival after attempting to take her own life. She shares her message of hope to other teens struggling with depression and anxiety; something Denison ISD educators say is perfect timing for their students in the middle of the pandemic.
“She was a cheerleader, she was a good student, but she suffered with depression and anxiety all her life, and she really didn’t know how to go about getting help,” said Special Education Counselor for Denison ISD, Jackie Melancon.
The Grant Halliburton Foundation and Newport Healthcare are sponsoring the screening of the documentary My Ascension.
“Her suicide attempt left her paralyzed and this is about her journey through that,” said Melancon.
How to Help When Adolescents Have Suicidal Thoughts
Even when rates of suicidal ideation increase, there are ways to keep kids safe.
With some evidence suggesting that more adolescents have been reporting suicidal thoughts during the pandemic, experts and parents are looking for ways to help.
One issue is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has not yet compiled and released statistics on suicide deaths, so it’s not clear whether the problem is worse than usual. But there are questions about whether suicide risks are increasing — especially in particular communities, like the Black and brown populations that have been hit hardest by the pandemic.
Even during normal times, many mental health problems tend to emerge in adolescence, and young people in this group are particularly vulnerable to social isolation. In Las Vegas, an increase in the number of student suicides during the pandemic spurred the superintendent’s recent decision to reopen schools.
“We don’t have the data to know the relationship of suicidality in children and youth and the Covid epidemic,” said Dr. Cynthia Pfeffer, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical Center who has worked extensively on grieving and bereavement in children and adolescents. “The tremendous stress for families might make a child feel like they need to get out, or feel depressed.”
Child Psychiatrists Warn That The Pandemic May Be Driving Up Kids’ Suicide Risk
Anthony Orr was almost done with his high school coursework when the governor of Nevada ordered a statewide shutdown of nonessential businesses on March 17, 2020.
“He was looking forward to all of the senior activities, prom and graduation,” says his mother, Pamela Orr. But all he got was a “mini [graduation] ceremony,” with only a handful of students walking, wearing masks and at a distance from each other.
“That was the most we could do because of COVID,” she says.
Anthony graduated with honors as he had planned to, wearing a white robe and cap and an advanced honors sash, says Pamela. But he decided against going to college.
“Right now … it’s all online, and you just lose the whole college experience,” she says.
Instead, he got a job working in construction. His parents thought he was doing fine. “He seemed happy to us,” says Pamela. “He seemed happy.”
But in August of last year, Anthony died by suicide.
Make Space, Listen, Offer Hope: How To Help A Child At Risk Of Suicide
It was over a decade ago when Regina Crider’s daughter first attempted suicide at age 10.
“As a mom, the thought of losing your child to suicide is overwhelming,” says Crider, who is the founder and executive director of Youth and Family Alliance, a support group for families of youth with mental illness in Rantoul, Ill.
Crider was upset and confused and felt that she had failed as a mother.
“I felt like maybe I missed the signs,” she says. “Because I work with families, why didn’t I see it?”
Her daughter survived the attempt, but the fear of losing her kicked Crider into action. “I needed to understand why and what I could do [to help her],” she says, “because I didn’t want to come home to her gone.”
We All Play a Role in Preventing Suicide
Times are especially hard for kids and families around the country right now. Here’s what we can do nationally and in Connecticut to help prevent suicide and self-harm and save lives.
In October of 2020, a stark public health warning was released by a Connecticut public health clearinghouse: youth suicides were on the rise in Connecticut and we had to act fast. Even before this recent surge, suicide was the second leading cause of death in adolescents in the United States. Compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, remote learning, social isolation, civil unrest and the economic impacts of the pandemic, our kids’ lives had been totally uprooted and many of them are struggling.
In October alone, four young teens in our state died by suicide – an extraordinary rise that required immediate action. All these issues will persist into the new year and children locally and nationally need our continued support more than ever as their lives continue to change in new and unexpected ways. Here are some ways we can help and support our kids as we continue to work through the pandemic and other challenges.
Open conversation is extremely important. It is okay to acknowledge that things are not okay. It is okay to talk about suicide and mental and emotional health with our kids. It does not make one more likely to die by suicide. Talking about suicide reduces stigma and allows individuals to seek help and consider other options.
Experts Express Concerns Over Mental Health Of Some Kids In The Pandemic
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: A year into this pandemic, it’s clear that the disease has led to more than a physical health crisis and an economic crisis. It’s also led to a mental health crisis, especially for young people. A recent CDC report shows that hospital emergency departments are seeing a greater proportion of children and adolescents with mental health problems. And educators and child psychiatrists are concerned that more kids in emotional crises are considering suicide. NPR’s Rhitu Chatterjee reports.
RHITU CHATTERJEE, BYLINE: To understand why educators are concerned, consider Nevada’s Clark County School District. It’s had 19 students die from suicide since last March. One of those students was a senior at Shadow Ridge High School on the outskirts of Las Vegas. Colleen Neely was his counselor.
COLLEEN NEELY: He had a huge smile that would just light up his whole face, and he flashed that almost daily. And it just made my day.
CHATTERJEE: She says he was shy but smart and polite, and he’d stop by her office every day to check in. Neely says he’d gone through a period of homelessness, but he’d been doing really well lately.
NEELY: He was passing all of his classes, going to earn the highest-level diploma that we offer at our school. So he was in a really good place, you know, and this was leading right up to us being shut down.
Surge of Student Suicides Pushes Las Vegas Schools to Reopen
Firmly linking teen suicides to school closings is difficult, but rising mental health emergencies and suicide rates point to the toll the pandemic lockdown is taking.
The reminders of pandemic-driven suffering among students in Clark County, Nev., have come in droves.
Since schools shut their doors in March, an early-warning system that monitors students’ mental health episodes has sent more than 3,100 alerts to district officials, raising alarms about suicidal thoughts, possible self-harm or cries for care. By December, 18 students had taken their own lives.
The spate of student suicides in and around Las Vegas has pushed the Clark County district, the nation’s fifth largest, toward bringing students back as quickly as possible. This month, the school board gave the green light to phase in the return of some elementary school grades and groups of struggling students even as greater Las Vegas continues to post huge numbers of coronavirus cases and deaths.
Superintendents across the nation are weighing the benefit of in-person education against the cost of public health, watching teachers and staff become sick and, in some cases, die, but also seeing the psychological and academic toll that school closings are having on children nearly a year in. The risk of student suicides has quietly stirred many district leaders, leading some, like the state superintendent in Arizona, to cite that fear in public pleas to help mitigate the virus’s spread.
Will the Pandemic Result in More Suicides?
It’s too soon to know. But some recent data, especially from specific groups, is cause for worry. Even before we entered this darkest of winters, when Covid-19 is relentlessly causing more and more sickness and death — not to mention additional stress, isolation and economic pain — there was evidence suggesting that significantly more people have thought about ending their lives during the pandemic than in recent years.
In August, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released the results of a nationwide survey conducted during the last week in June: More than 40 percent of those who responded reported symptoms of anxiety or depression or increased substance use, in addition to other struggles. And more than 10 percent said that they had seriously considered suicide in the past 30 days, compared with just over 4 percent who said the same thing in 2018 — and who were referring to suicidal ideation over the previous 12 months.
“We want to know, who is most at risk from suicide in the pandemic,” says Paul Nestadt, a psychiatrist at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, who was not involved in the survey. And yet, he adds, “we won’t know until it’s mostly over.” That’s because it can take a year or two for the C.D.C. to collect and analyze national mortality data.
Suicide Prevention in the Context of COVID-19
Among the innumerable negative effects linked to the coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) crisis, various risk factors for mental illness, including social isolation, unemployment, and financial difficulty, have increased drastically. People with pre-existing psychiatric illness are especially vulnerable to these circumstances, potentially compounding the impact of reported interruptions to mental health care due to the pandemic.
A wide range of public survey results have shown substantial increases in symptoms of anxiety and depression associated with COVID-19, and a poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation revealed that 53% of adults have experienced worsening mental health that they attribute to worry and stress regarding the pandemic. Respondents also reported a greater frequency of maladaptive behaviors and other impairments, such as disruptions in sleep and eating as well as increased alcohol and substance use.
How the pandemic is impacting college students’ mental health
College students have long been prone to stress, anxiety and depression. And three out of four Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 report poor mental health tied to the pandemic, according to the CDC. Hari Sreenivasan reports as part of our ongoing series, “Rethinking College.”
Judy Woodruff: “Finally tonight, we look at how the pandemic is affecting the mental health of college students. Students have long been prone to stress, anxiety and depression. According to the CDC, three out of four Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 report poor mental health tied to the pandemic.”
PBS News Hour, Jan. 19, 2021
‘I’ve Tried Everything’: Pandemic Worsens Child Mental Health Crisis
Sandra’s 17-year-old daughter, Lindsey, has autism. Lindsey thrives on routine, and got special help at school until the coronavirus pandemic cut her off from the trained teachers and therapists she’d come to rely on.
A bag of Doritos, that’s all Princess wanted.
Her mom calls her Princess, but her real name is Lindsey. She’s 17 and lives with her mom, Sandra, a nurse, outside of Atlanta. On May 17, 2020, a Sunday, Lindsey decided she didn’t want breakfast; she wanted Doritos. So she left home and walked to Family Dollar, taking her pants off on the way, while her mom followed on the phone with police.
Lindsey has autism (NPR isn’t using last names to protect her privacy). It can be hard for her to communicate and navigate social situations. She thrives on routine, and gets special help at school. Or got help, before the coronavirus pandemic closed schools and forced tens of millions of children home. Sandra says that’s when their living hell started.
“It’s like her brain was wired,” she says. “She’d just put on her jacket, and she’s out the door. And I’m chasing her.”
17 Deep Conversations About Mental Health We Had in 2020
2020 was difficult on us all. We struggled with indoor stir crazies, WFH burnout, and election stress and anxiety. The result? A September 2020 study found that one in four Americans struggled with depression this year, more than three times that before the pandemic.
But all along the way, Men’s Health was there to help guide you through the longest 12 months ever. Each Friday, we spoke with psychiatrists and entertainers to find out how they lived, worked, and kept sane during a difficult year. Some sought therapy, others relied on self-care apps for a mental boost. To help guide your journey to better mental health, and take on 2021 in full-force, below, a few of our favorite Friday Sessions from the past year.
Normalizing expression of emotions for men is key to suicide prevention
Talking about suicide can be difficult and uncomfortable. Christine Moutier, M.D., chief medical officer at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention talked about the stigma that surrounds men sharing emotions and how to spot someone who might be suicidal.
Three things you can do to keep your teens safe in your home
The pandemic is a stressful time for everyone, but especially for our kids.
Their exposure to the grown-up world has come fast and furious over the past nine months: a deadly outbreak; the murder of George Floyd and the protests; the divisive 2020 election; and everything else. All this while being isolated from loved ones outside their homes.
As their parents, caregivers, guardians and friends, we can be mindful of their burdens and still-growing brains. Whether our kids are feeling anxious, bored or tempted by addictive substances, our response as parents and caregivers can be the same: Start talking openly about healthy ways to manage stress, anxiety and depression.
That’s the message from the Windham County Prevention Partnership, a countywide coalition of four regional groups helping youth and young adults to make positive decisions in their lives.
Three things adults can do: Talk, Track, Secure
Leaders from two of the groups — Laura Schairbaum, director of the Greater Falls Connections in Bellows Falls, and Cindy Hayford, director of the Deerfield Valley Community Partnership in Wilmington — spoke with the Reformer recently about the partnership’s latest campaign: Talk, Track, Secure.
The campaign comes on the cusp of the holidays, in the ninth month of the global outbreak and during the national deployment of a coronavirus vaccine.