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.

May 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.

Action Alliance Statement on Final CDC Mortality Data Showing Suicide No Longer Top 10 Leading Cause of Death in 2020

The final 2020 mortality data released today by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Center for Health Statistics show that suicide is no longer a leading cause of death—in large part due to the death toll from COVID-19. 

But this in no way means that suicide is not still a critical public health issue, as we can’t assume a downward trend based solely on one or two years of data. In fact, provisional CDC suicide counts for 2020 still show that there were an estimated 45,855 lives lost to suicide in the U.S.—which does not take into consideration the millions of other Americans who experienced suicidal thoughts during this same period. 

We also recognize that while it appears age-adjusted suicide rates likely declined in 2020 when compared to 2019, there was also an estimated increase in suicide rates among certain populations, such as Black and American Indian/Alaska Native males. In response, it’s imperative that our country take swift action to make suicide prevention a national priority. Greater, more urgent efforts are needed to 1) strengthen our data collection systems and research investments, 2) ensure equitable delivery of care, and 3) achieve systemic changes, particularly around our crisis response infrastructure.

For a PDF of the complete article, go here.