News


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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.


January 2019


Project 2025 is a nationwide initiative to reduce the annual rate of suicide in the U.S. 20 percent by 2025.

With guidance from leaders in the field and dynamic data modeling, we’ve been able to determine the programs, policies and interventions that will save the most lives in the shortest amount of time through Project 2025.   
 
We know that we can’t do it alone so AFSP is working closely with partner organizations to implement strategies and scale nationwide to bring the rates down, which have been on the rise for nearly two decades. 
 
Today, we are pleased to debut the new Project 2025 website to tell the story of the work and show progress made over time, and invite you to join us in our efforts to save lives.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, January 15, 2019


Can Suicide Be Prevented? Dialectical Behavior Therapy, which helps patients communicate and handle their emotions, can be effective at reducing suicidal thoughts and attempts

The suicide death rate in most states has risen sharply since in the late 1990s, according to data released in June by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with 25 states recording increases of more than 30% during that time. In 2017, the national suicide rate rose 3.7%, the sharpest annual increase in nearly a decade.

Melanie Harned, a psychologist who specializes in suicide prevention, discussed what to do when you think someone is suicidal and explained Dialectical Behavior Therapy, an approach that research shows can be effective at reducing suicidal thoughts and attempts.

Dr. Harned is the coordinator of the DBT program at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System and a senior research scientist in the department of psychology at the University of Washington. She has been researching DBT and how to prevent suicide in high-risk populations—including adolescents and people with PTSD, borderline personality and opioid dependence—for 14 years.

The Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2019


State-by-state study links gun ownership with youth suicide

“The availability of firearms is contributing to an increase in the actual number of suicides,” one researcher said.

Suicide rates among U.S. children and teens have hit startling rates and a study now finds one clear predictor of youth suicide: gun ownership.

Youth suicides rates are higher in states with high gun ownership rates, a team at Boston University School of Public Health found.

“Household gun ownership was the single biggest predictor of youth suicide rate in a state,” Dr. Michael Siegel, a public health specialist at BU, told NBC News.

Siegel has been studying the relationships between gun ownership and homicide, suicide and other factors. It’s well known that people with access to a gun are far more likely to complete suicide. And some data had suggested that gun ownership in general was associated with higher suicide rates.

NBC News, January 17, 2019


Vicious Cycle Emerges With Opioid And Suicide Epidemics

When Maria Luisa Tucker’s father died after swallowing a sizeable amount of a prescribed opioid, hydrocodone, she saw it as a personal tragedy. But recently, after investigating the opioid crisis and the connection to mental health issues, the journalist said she took a broader view of her dad’s 2006 suicide.

Last year, Tucker, a Brooklyn, New York  woman, ran across an article in the New England Journal of Medicine titled “Suicide: A Silent Contributor to Opioid-Overdose Deaths.”

“And that’s sort of when a light bulb went on for me. And I realized, like, Oh, well, you know, maybe the hydrocodone played a bigger part in my father’s death. And I thought, and maybe this wasn’t just a personal tragedy for me, maybe this was something that had been repeating itself.”

NPR Illinois, January 17, 2019


The Two Faces of Suicide

A new book stresses the biological causes of self-destruction. But what about the social ones?

On April 14th, 2014, around four o’clock in the morning, Victoria McLeod, a seventeen-year-old from New Zealand, stood on the roof of a Singapore condominium building, texted a curt farewell to her friends (“Love you all, sorry guys”), and leaped ten floors to her death. Some weeks later, Victoria’s mother spotted a long scuff mark on the building’s façade, which suggested that her daughter had tweaked the trajectory of her fall, insuring that she landed between parked cars on a narrow parcel of tile. “She was so focussed,” Linda McLeod said, “even when she jumped.”

In the months leading up to her death, Victoria (or Vic, as she was called by friends) kept a journal in which she meticulously recorded the torsions of her darkening headspace. Wry and brilliant, Vic proved an astute observer of her peers, as in one passage in which she briskly dissects a paragon of “Mean Girls” popularity: “Walking down Claymore Avenue with $200 Nikes and a cloned training buddy, no doubt to the gym… It’s kind of beyond me how anyone can have their life so sorted.”

As her depression deepens, her prose grows more self-aware and more gravely disconsolate. “Today was bad,” she writes. “Sat in the shower. Did the whole crying bit. Sat in bed. Did the whole sad songs and crying bit..

The New Yorker, January 16, 2019


High suicide rate among young Latinas may be exacerbated by anti-immigrant rhetoric, experts say

It started in sixth grade. Sara Martinez said she had no reason to be sad, and yet she was.

In seventh grade, she cut herself for the first time, finding her own blood frightening. She eventually tried to kill herself seven times before her 18th birthday.

“I just wanted the pain to end … self-harm only helped me in that moment,” Martinez said in an interview with ABC News. “Afterwards, I would see the scars and that wouldn’t make me happy, and I would self-harm again.”

Martinez is part of a startling statistic: 1 out of every 10 Latinas has attempted suicide in the past year, 2 out of 10 have made a suicide plan and half of all Latina teens said they’ve felt hopeless, according to the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to people ages 10 to 24.

One-third of Hispanics in the U.S. are younger than 18, and another 14.6 million are between 18 and 33, according to Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data. As the Hispanic population in this country has continued to grow, the rates of depression, suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts among Latina teens have remained above those of Latino male youths, and white males and females.

ABC News, January 15, 2019


Facebook’s AI Suicide Prevention Program: Likes and Dislikes

Within the first year of launching an artificial intelligence (AI) program to flag potential signs of suicidality in individual accounts, Facebook has released data showing there have been 3500 wellness checks worldwide to rule out potential suicidal intent in its users.

Although at first blush this sounds like a good thing, some experts are questioning specifics of the algorithm and calling on the company for greater transparency.

Initiated in 2017, the program uses machine learning to identify posts, comments, and videos that may indicate suicidal intent. It also uses “contextual understanding” to disregard phrases such as, “I have so much homework I want to die,” which is not a genuine sign of distress, the company said in a press release.

Highly concerning content is then reviewed by specialist teams who determine whether specific individuals warrant help from first responders.

“Mental health experts say that one of the best ways to prevent suicide is for people in distress to hear from friends and family who care about them,” a spokesperson for Facebook said in a statement sent to Medscape Medical News. “We can connect those in distress with friends (and also organizations) who can offer support.”

Asked to comment, Drew Ramsey, MD, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Columbia University, New York City, and member and past chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA’s) Council on Communications, said the company should be commended for working toward curbing growing suicide rates.

“I think Facebook is stepping up out of a responsibility that their platform is being used by people to express a lot of different feelings. And when that happens, they wanted to do their best to respond,” Ramsey told Medscape Medical News.

Medscape, January 16, 2019 [may require free registration to access article]


Parents Often Unaware of Kids’ Suicidal Thoughts

When children are having suicidal thoughts, their parents may often be in the dark, a new study shows.

The study included more than 5,000 kids, aged 11 to 17, and one parent for each child. Researchers found that among the children, 8 percent said they had contemplated suicide at some time. But only half of their parents were aware of it.

The same gap showed up when researchers looked at the issue from a different angle: Around 8 percent of parents said their child had ever thought about suicide.

Almost half the time, the child denied it, according to findings published online Jan. 14 in Pediatrics.

It all points to a “pretty substantial disagreement” between parents’ and kids’ reports, said study leader Jason Jones, a research scientist at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

In cases where parents are unaware of their child’s struggles, one reason may simply be that the signs were not obvious, according to Jones.

U.S. News & World Report, January 14, 2019


A Northwestern Student Took Her Own Life. Is a Sorority to Blame?

The death of Jordan Hankins is an unusual case of potential campus hazing, but the fallout is following a familiar pattern.

On January 9, 2017, a Northwestern University sophomore named Jordan Hankins died by suicide in her dorm room in Evanston, Illinois. This week, two years after her death, her mother—Felicia Hankins—filed a complaint in federal court against Alpha Kappa Alpha, the sorority her daughter was pledging at the time of her death.

The complaint alleges that Jordan Hankins, also a member of the university’s women’s basketball team, was subjected to “physical abuse including paddling, verbal abuse, mental abuse, financial exploitation, sleep deprivation, items being thrown and dumped on her, and other forms of hazing intended to humiliate and demean her” during the hazing process, which triggered her post-traumatic stress disorder and caused the prolonged anxiety and depression that eventually led to her death.

The lawsuit does not specify whether Hankins’s PTSD was a direct result of the hazing or existed before it. Prior to Felicia Hankins’s complaint, most media coverage of Jordan Hankins’s suicide did not characterize it as having any relation to sorority hazing.

The Atlantic, January 14, 2019


As youth suicides continue to climb, Colorado AG releases report on youth suicide causes, solutions

In the 2017 Healthy Kids Colorado survey, 17 percent of all participating middle and high school students reported considering suicide and 7 percent reported attempting suicide at least once in the past year. Among LGBTQ youth, the rates jump to 44.8 percent of respondents who report having considered suicide and 19.9 percent attempting it.

This is one of several disturbing statistics that underlie a report on youth suicide in Colorado issued by the Colorado Attorney General’s office. The report, “Community Conversations to Inform Youth Suicide Prevention,” was commissioned during former state Attorney General Cynthia Coffman’s tenure to learn more about adolescent suicide in the state and find ways to address the crisis, as suicide has become the second leading cause of death among young people in Colorado — only behind all other forms of unintentional injury combined.

Summit Daily, January 12, 2019


More research says Facebook can cause depression, this time among millennials. The findings are published in the latest edition of the Journal of Applied Biobehavioural Research.

Many of those who began with moderate clinical depression finished just a few weeks later with very mild symptoms after drastically cutting down on their social-media use, research says.

Spending too much time on “social media” sites like Facebook is making people more than just miserable. It may also be making them depressed.

A new study looked at 504 millennials who actively use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and/or Snapchat, individuals who met the criteria for a major depressive disorder scored higher on the “Social Media Addiction” scale. These individuals were more likely to compare themselves to others better off than they were, and indicated that they would be more bothered by being tagged in unflattering pictures, it found.

Those with major depressive disorder were less likely to post pictures of themselves along with other people and reported fewer followers. The findings are published in the latest edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of Applied Biobehavioural Research.

MarketWatch, January 11, 2019


Childhood abuse increases risk of adult suicide, finds research. Largest study of its kind shows ‘devastating’ impact of sexual, physical and emotional abuse.

People who experienced sexual, physical or emotional abuse as children are two to three times more likely to kill themselves as adults, new research has found.

Experts said the findings confirmed the “devastating effects” of child abuse on mental wellbeing, while one suicide charity said 70% of people who had either tried to take their own life or who had thought about it had been abused.

People who were sexually abused as a child were three times more likely than others to try to kill themselves, according to the new study in Psychological Medicine.

And people who were either physically or emotionally abused or neglected in childhood were two and a half times more likely to try to end their lives.

The Guardian, January 8, 2019


For Some Millennials, Access to Mental Health Care Can Be Problematic

Millennials have been found to have the highest stress levels of any generation, but barriers like a lack of health insurance are preventing them from getting treatment.

Therapy is out of reach for many millennials.

Aishia Correll, 27, grew up in a world where therapy was not an option. So, when the Philadelphia woman began struggling with her mental health, she turned to painting instead.

But now, Correll tells the Bristol Herald Courier, she is a health care strategist and is working to increase access and affordability for mental health care, especially for millennials, women of color and the LGBTQ community.

Correll’s areas of focus are in need. According to a 2018 survey by the American Psychological Association, millennials and Generation Z are at a higher likelihood of rating their mental health as fair or poor in comparison to other generations. In the same survey, millennials were found to have the highest stress levels of all generations.

The Fix, January 9, 2019


Why Are More Youths Thinking About and Attempting Suicide?

More than double the amount of children are hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and attempts to kill themselves than just ten years earlier, but explanations for the increase are lacking.

To meet this challenge, an interdisciplinary group of researchers from the United States is launching a consortium aimed at increasing diversity in suicide research among children, adolescents, and young adults. The Youth Suicide Research Consortium (YSRC) includes researchers from 22 institutions (colleges, universities, and medical centers), including John Jay College Professor of Psychology Dr. Elizabeth Jeglic. 

“While traditionally, individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups were less likely to die by suicide, rising rates of death by suicide are also being observed in these groups,” said Professor Jeglic. “LGTBQIA youth are also particularly high risk to attempt or die by suicide.”

John Jay College of Criminal Justice, January 9, 2019


Suicide is third leading cause of death for those 15-24 years old

According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is attempted 1.1 million times annually.

Unfortunately, every 12.3 minutes a person completes suicide, totaling 117 lives per day, or nearly 43,000 lives per year, making suicide the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. For ages 15-24, suicide is the third leading cause of death.

These statistics are often perceived as merely numerical representations, but they have a deeper significance. These numbers represent a collection of loved ones gone too soon.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention reported 90 percent of those who completed suicide had a diagnosable psychiatric disorder. In essence, many battled with emotional and psychological problems.

Florida Today, January 8, 2019


Social Media (Again) Shown To Be Worse For Girls’ Mental Health Than Boys’

We’ve heard it before: As much as it may be handy for keeping in touch with old classmates or family members, social media seems to do more harm than good, psychologically, especially for young people. And the refrain is increasingly common, not just from the friend everyone has who’s quit Facebook and never been happier, but from multiple research studies over several years (and, if you count it, from some of the developers of social media themselves who have sounded loud warnings about its risks).

Now, a new study from the University of Essex and University College London finds that teenagers who spend more hours a day on social media have a greater risk for depression, and the connection appears to be particularly pronounced for girls.

Forbes, January 5, 2019


MCPH Explains New Study about Youth Suicide Trends, Colorado Attorney General’s Office released study on youth suicide trends

Use Full Screen mode to read the report below,
Community Conversations to Inform Youth Suicide Prevention

 

Western Slope Now.com, January 4, 2019


December 2018


In Screening for Suicide Risk, Facebook Takes On Tricky Public Health Role

A police officer on the late shift in an Ohio town recently received an unusual call from Facebook.

Earlier that day, a local woman wrote a Facebook post saying she was walking home and intended to kill herself when she got there, according to a police report on the case. Facebook called to warn the Police Department about the suicide threat.

The officer who took the call quickly located the woman, but she denied having suicidal thoughts, the police report said. Even so, the officer believed she might harm herself and told the woman that she must go to a hospital — either voluntarily or in police custody. He ultimately drove her to a hospital for a mental health work-up, an evaluation prompted by Facebook’s intervention. (The New York Times withheld some details of the case for privacy reasons.)

Police stations from Massachusetts to Mumbai have received similar alerts from Facebook over the last 18 months as part of what is most likely the world’s largest suicide threat screening and alert program. The social network ramped up the effort after several people live-streamed their suicides on Facebook Live in early 2017. It now utilizes both algorithms and user reports to flag possible suicide threat

The New York Times, December 31, 2018


Gun suicides rise to highest level in 40 years

While mass-shootings are the most visible and spectacular consequence of America’s love affair with guns, the person most likely to shoot you is you (either accidentally or deliberately), with a loved one or a friend (again, either accidentally or deliberately) close behind.

Suicide is an impulsive act. Half of suicide survivors report planning their deaths for less than ten minutes. States like Connecticut that have passed background check laws for handguns have seen precipitous drops in firearm suicides, and states with more lax gun laws experience higher gun mortality of all types. States that have repealed background checks for handguns saw increases in firearm suicides.

The most gun-suicidal populations are older white men and veterans. Guns are only used in a small minority of suicide attempts, but half of all successful suicides are firearm suicides.

BoingBoing, December 28, 2018


Child and Adolescent Suicide and Self Harm: Treatment and Prevention

I received a message from the parent of a patient that read, “He finally did it.” Tragically, the boy was found dead in his college dorm room after hanging himself. I had treated the boy when he was 15 years old following a suicide attempt. At that time, the boy was suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts. These problems remitted with treatment, and there were no other suicide attempts during high school. He went to college, and saw a psychiatrist near the college for follow-up care.

Suicide prevention is perhaps our greatest challenge. Among youth ages 10 to 24 years, suicide is the second leading cause of death. Over 6000 individuals in the 10- to 24-year age group lost their lives to suicide in 2016.1 Although still a rare event statistically (nearly 15,000 individuals in the same age range died by unintentional injuries in 2016), many of us providing psychiatric care will lose patients to suicide. Despite the recognition that as much as we try it is not possible to prevent all suicides, there have been substantial advances in knowledge regarding treatment. This article reviews some of these advances, which have been selected to inform clinical care.

Psychiatric Times, December 26, 2018


Introduction: Turning Suicide Prevention Science Into Action: A National Imperative

We are living in a pressing time of transition in our nation. Even while attitudes are opening up about mental health and suicide prevention, the rate of suicide continues to rise in the United States, in fact by nearly 30% over the past two decades.

After a century of progress as a nation, overall mortality particularly in the middle years is increasing as a result of the so-called deaths of despair due to suicide, alcohol, opioids, and liver disease.

In an era with greater technologic advances and potential connectivity, the science of suicide demonstrates that many forces are still active, including human experiences of isolation, struggle, loss, and unmet expectations, and concurrently, low mental health literacy. Although 94% of US adults believe mental health is equally important to physical health, most do not know how to identify changes in mental health that signal serious risk, or what to do in response, let alone have feasible access and mental health coverage anywhere near parity.

Additionally, over reliance on a sense of self-sufficiency and fear of judgment are barriers to achieving deeper connections in our relationships and fully integrating suicide prevention into actionable steps in our homes and communities. The truth is that interpersonal connectivity is a basic need for humans.

When we lose that experience of connection, whether due to changes in culture and modern frenetic living or shame that drives people to hide their true internal experiences, then the prevalent experience of unaddressed mental health conditions and other types of suffering can lead to the problems we are seeing in the rising suicide rate.

Psychiatric Times, December 26, 2018


Remove content on suicide and self-harm, government minister tells tech giants including Google and Facebook

• The government’s minister for suicide prevention said internet giants must act 
• Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price, 49, hit out at sites that publish suicide methods
• She said firms should treat the content the same way they would terror material 

Technology giants including Google and Facebook should be forced to remove content about suicide and self-harm, the government’s minister for suicide prevention has demanded.

Jackie Doyle-Price, 49, said internet giants need to take action against self-harm methods in the same way they tackle online extremist content.

The MP for Thurrock, Essex, was appointed as Britain’s first suicide prevention minister in October.

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph, the minister said that sites Wikipedia, Google, Facebook and Twitter were behaving like ‘unruly teenagers’ who had to be ‘dragged, kicking and screaming’ into taking action.

Daily Mail, December 23, 2018


The Language of Suicide

By the time my father died, it wasn’t a surprise. It was scary and sad, but it was also a terrible sort of relief. It was an unglamorous death in the Canal Street apartment he had chosen for its expansive, unfinished rooftop on which he tended his clivia and miniature lemon trees. Empty bottles of antidepressants and antihypertensives stood next to his computer, on which the browser history revealed a final Google search that read: “how to commit suicide with Paxil.”

No one talked much about how he had died. As is often the case with suicide, it was mostly an open secret, though some suggested that perhaps I was wrong, that it was not intentional after all. As a society we’ve come a long way with respect to suicide, mental illness, and addiction, but we have a long way yet to go. When the topic of his death comes up, I often hesitate, pulled between the desire to share openly that my life, like so many others, has been impacted by suicide and that the topic remains heavily stigmatized, emotionally burdensome, and susceptible to all manner of unsolicited—and frequently erroneous—opinions and narratives.

I can never settle on what language to use—“he killed himself” sounds too violent; “committed suicide” too clinical; “died by suicide” too affected; “took his own life” too romantic. There is no easy way to accept condolences while also honoring the reality that while he was in pain, he also caused great pain. Although he hurt, he also caused lasting hurt. There is no casual way to remark that his death was a tragedy, but his life was too.

JAMA Network, December 22, 2018


New pathways for implementing universal suicide risk screening in healthcare settings, model could help hospitals better identify and aid youth at risk for suicide.

A new report, authored in part by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), part of the National Institutes of Health, provides guidance on how to implement universal suicide risk screening of youth in medical settings. The report describes a way for hospitals to address the rising suicide rate in a way that is flexible and mindful of limited resources.

In 2016 alone, more than 6,000 youth in the United States under the age of 25 died by suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Studies have found that a majority of youth who died by suicide visited a health care provider or medical setting in the month prior to killing themselves. The interactions of these youth with the health care system make medical settings an ideal place for positioning suicide intervention efforts.

“Suicide is a major public health concern and early detection is a critical prevention strategy,” said NIMH Director Joshua A. Gordon, M.D., Ph.D. “Part of NIMH’s suicide prevention research portfolio focuses primarily on testing and implementing effective strategies for identifying individuals at risk of suicide. Results from these research efforts are poised to make a real difference and help save lives.

National Institute of Health, December 20, 2018


Suicide prediction technology is revolutionary. It badly needs oversight. Should we trust Facebook to dispatch police to the homes of distraught users?

Last year, more than 1 million Americans attempted suicide, and 47,000 succeeded. While some people display warning signs, many others do not, which makes suicide difficult to predict and leaves family members shocked — and anguished that they couldn’t do something.

Medical providers and tech companies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs and Facebook, are increasingly applying artificial intelligence to the problem of suicide prediction. Machine learning software, which excels at pattern recognition, can mine health records and online posts for words and behaviors linked to suicide and alert physicians or others to impending attempts. The potential upside of this effort is huge, because even small increases in predictive accuracy could save thousands of lives each year.

The Washington Post, December 20, 2018


Fighting against teen suicide: ASU psychology seniors launch initiative to support students, parents and educators

Just two years ago, 31 teenagers died by suicide in the East Valley. Teen suicide is not just localized to large cities like Phoenix; it is a problem throughout Arizona and nationally. In 2017 alone, 1.3 million people attempted suicide and almost 50,000 died by suicide. For people of all ages, suicide is the 10th leading cause of death, but for teenagers, it is the second.

Arizona State University students Sonia Sabrowsky and Madison Sutton, both seniors in the Department of Psychology and Barrett, The Honors College decided they had to do something to try to prevent teen suicide. Madison Sutton and Sonia Sabrowsky decided they had to do something to try to prevent teen suicide. Their motivation is personal. When Sabrowsky and Sutton were in high school, a friend died by suicide.

Both women are members of ASU’s Courage Lab and the ASU Tillman Scholars Program. The Tillman Scholars Program is a community of high achieving students, alumni and mentors who espouse the values and actions of Pat Tillman. They were encouraged to come up with a social venture designed to make a difference.

Arizona State University, December 18, 2018


Stigma of suicide makes it hard to fight growing public health epidemic

There’s an “out of darkness” bracelet on William Fallen’s right wrist. On his left forearm is a tattoo with angel wings and the date 7/7/17. And around Fallen’s neck is a cross containing some of the ashes of his older brother, Loren Hunley.

After Hunley died by suicide in the summer of 2017, Fallen looked for ways to talk about what happened, to let others know it was OK to talk about how their loved one had died. The tattoo, which he got a few weeks after his brother’s death, has led to many people confiding in Fallen.

“I wanted that reminder to be with me, I wanted to always honor him, and I wanted to have a conversation piece.”

Fallen has been surprised by how many people he knows have lost someone to suicide, which kills more people each year than homicide or motor vehicle accidents. In 2016, more than 1,400 people died by suicide in Illinois, and 45,000 died nationwide. Suicide that year was the second-leading cause of death for ages 10-34 and the fourth-leading cause for ages 35-54.

Chicago Sun-Times, December 17, 2018


What To Do If You See Someone Posting Suicidal Thoughts On Social Media, According To Experts

When someone speaks out about their mental health struggles, you might not know if you’re the right person to offer support. But even if it’s someone you’re not close with anymore or even an acquaintance, you may be able to make a difference. Especially because some people turn to social media when they’re in crisis — even posting on social media about suicidal thoughts.

“Social media has given us a portal into the most personal thoughts and feelings of everyone and anyone,” Joshua Klapow, PhD, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Bustle. “Likewise, it has given us a way to share our own most personal thoughts and feelings with literally the world. What that means is that we are going to be exposed to the distress that comes into people’s lives.” If you see someone posting about suicidal thoughts on social media, it can be difficult to know what to do next.

Bustle, December 17, 2018


Boys need better access to mental health care. Why aren’t they getting it?

“If you can’t turn to someone in your life and say how you are really feeling, then you’re only going to end up hurting yourself somehow down the road.”

Throughout high school, Alexander Sanchez was severely depressed. He thought about suicide, and he didn’t know how to explain what was wrong or ask for help. Instead, Sanchez said that whenever he wasn’t in school, he would lie in bed all day, “not eating, not being happy, being almost not there.”

It wasn’t until Sanchez, who grew up in College Station, Texas, got to college that a friend convinced him to see a psychologist, who diagnosed him with depression. In hindsight, Sanchez said he did not reach out for help sooner because he believed that men should be self-reliant— an idea he believes he picked up from Tom Cruise and other macho characters on TV and in movies.

“I think I had really internalized this emotional stoicism that I know I was supposed to have,” said Sanchez, 21, who is now a senior studying psychology at New York University.

NBC News, December 15, 2018


Girl, 9, commits suicide after classmates bully her for having white friend, family says

A 9-year-old girl committed suicide last week after she was allegedly bullied by students at her Alabama elementary school.

The past week has been “an emotional roller-coaster” following the Dec. 3 death of McKenzie Adams, her aunt Edwinna Harris told The Columbus Dispatch.

Adams’ grandmother reportedly found the fourth-grader after she hung herself in their Linden residence.

The 9-year-old’s decision to take her own life came months after the alleged harassment by her classmates at U.S. Jones Elementary School in Demopolis began, her relatives told the outlet. Some of the tauntings stemmed from her being friends with a white boy, her aunt said.

Fox News, December 13, 2018


Child suicides can be linked to bullying, but it’s never the sole cause, mental health professionals say

The death by suicide of a 9-year-old Alabama girl this month has drawn attention back to the alarming increase in suicide by youth, and to the question of whether bullying is playing a role.
It was at least the third death by suicide this year of a child younger than 12 who had been harassed by peers. Mental health professionals say bullying can be a factor in a child’s decision to attempt suicide but is typically one of several.

“There is not a causal link between bullying – either being victimized or being a perpetrator – and suicidal ideation and attempts,” says University of Florida psychology professor Dorothy Espelage, lead author of a 2013 study on bullying and suicide. “It is one potent predictor of suicidal ideation and attempts, (but) it’s one of many.”

USA Today, December 13, 2018


‘I’ve watched this happen for four years’: Northwestern University grapples with string of suicides

Alarmed by the suicides of four students this year, including a sophomore found dead in his dormitory in late November, Northwestern University is boosting staff at the campus’ main counseling center.

Two new employees will join its mental health center, Counseling and Psychological Services, to perform suicide screenings and clinical support services, Vice President for Student Affairs Patricia Telles-Irvin announced in a message to students last week.

“I share your concerns about the need for the university to respond to the fullest extent possible to issues surrounding students who may be struggling, and we have worked diligently and deliberately to do so,” Telles-Irvin wrote Dec. 5.

Daniel Jessell, a sophomore, was found dead the night of Nov. 28 at his dorm on the north side of the Evanston campus, according to university and Cook County medical examiner’s office officials. The coroner ruled Jessell died in a suicide. Reached through email, his mother declined comment.

Chicago Tribune, December 11, 2018


University of Utah researchers identify 4 gene variants linked to heightened suicide risk

University of Utah Health researchers have identified some genetic factors that may increase a person’s risk of dying by suicide, according to the results of a newly published study.
Variants in four genes — known as APH1B, AGBL2, SP110 and SUCLA2 — were identified as being noticeably associated with suicide risk, according to the study published in late October in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Molecular Psychiatry.

The findings strengthen existing research linking genetics and suicide, and could have implications leading to “new treatments for those who suffer,” said Dr. Douglas Gray, the senior author of the study and a professor of psychiatry at the U.

Deseret News Utah, December 8, 2018


Holiday depression? Suicides actually lowest in December

It’s a common thought that during the holidays, suicides go up. But, according to the Centers for Disease Control as well as Psychology Today, that just isn’t the case.

In fact, national suicide rates are at their lowest in December.

“The Annenberg Public Policy Center has been tracking media reports on suicide since 2000,” the CDC says on its website. “A recent analysis found that 50% of articles written during the 2009–2010 holiday season perpetuated the myth.”

The CDC says suicide rates peak during the spring and autumn months and that pattern has not changed recently.

The CDC goes on to say that the myth surrounding an increase in suicides may actually harm suicide prevention efforts. Suicide, the CDC says, is preventable.

Channel 2, KUTV, December 8, 2018


Infections in kids tied to subsequent mental illness risk in new study

Serious infections during childhood have been tied to a subsequent increased risk of mental disorders in a new study.

The study, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry on Wednesday, found that infections requiring hospitalizations were associated with an about 84% increased risk of being diagnosed with any mental disorder and an about 42% increased risk of using psychotropic drugs to treat a mental disorder.

Less severe infections treated with anti-infective medications, like antibiotics, were associated with increased risks of 40% and 22%, respectively, the study found.

“The surprising finding was that the infections in general – and in particular, the less severe infections, those that were treated with anti-infective agents – increased the risk for the majority of mental disorders,” said Dr. Ole Köhler-Forsberg, a neuroscientist and doctoral fellow at Aarhus University in Denmark, who led the study.

CNN, December 6, 2018


10 common questions about depression, answered

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding depression.

Depression is a common mood disorder that can make even daily activities difficult.

Although 40 million people in the US suffer from depression, many don’t know much about the disorder.

Depression can happen to anyone at any age, regardless of their gender.

Medications are not the only treatments for depression — others include therapy and lifestyle changes.

According to the National Institute of Health, depression is a common but serious mood disorder that causes severe symptoms. These symptoms — feelings of hopelessness, sadness, irritability, and decreased energy, among others — affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.

For those who are not familiar with what depression, chances are they have a lot of questions.

To help you get a better understanding, here are 10 commonly asked questions – and their answers – about depression.

Insider, December 5, 2018