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.
Learn signs of teen suicide
The increasing number of suicides nationally among the young and a rise in numbers of attempted suicides punctuate disturbing trends that society needs to address.
Not enough mental health assessment and treatment, too much bullying, and the ever-present and often troublesome social media are among the factors experts cite that contribute to suicides.
A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows the rate of suicides among people ages 10 to 24 rose from 2007 to 2017. In 2007, 6.8 deaths per 100,000 people were reported in that age range, but it jumped to 10.6 deaths per 100,000 in 2017.
And the amount of suicides rose faster from 2013 to 2017 — an average increase of 7 percent per year — compared with 3 percent from 2007 to 2013.
We All Need to Be Educated about Suicide Prevention
Rates are increasing, especially among children and teens. As parents and loved ones are preparing to send their children back to school or off to college, perhaps we need to take time to bring a difficult topic out of the darkness and into the light. Akin to the silent killer hypertension, today we have an emerging silent killer characterized by undetected or unrecognizable emotional distress, that when left untreated may lead to life’s most irreversible outcome: death.
While there has been an increase in suicide rates in the United States, the rates among children and teens presents an even more disturbing picture. Suicide among girls has outpaced suicide among boys. Since 2007, the rates for girls age 10–17 rose by nearly 13 percent compared to 7 percent for boys of comparable age. The rates among adolescents and young adults have reached an all-time high. In fact, suicide among those age 15–19 and 20–24 rose 47 percent and 36 percent respectively since 2000. Suicide has become the second leading cause of death for those age 15–24.
I treat teens who attempted suicide. Here’s what they told me.
Suicide deaths have been rising in recent years. Thoughtful treatment is necessary.
I’ll never forget the first time I cared for a teenager who had made a suicide attempt.
The young man, whom I’ll call Zach, was home from college for winter break. I was a senior medical student completing my clinical rotation in psychiatry. He told me he was having difficulty adjusting to college: He and his roommate weren’t getting along; he missed his brother and parents; and he was beginning to lose touch with friends from high school. Being home, Zach had neither the structure of college, nor the familiar routines he had in high school. I met him after he sustained a serious physical injury when he attempted to end his life.
I wish Zach’s story was a rare occurrence in my career. Unfortunately, over my years in practice, I have been increasingly called on to care for teenagers at risk of suicide, and the stories have only multiplied.
Suicide is the second-leading cause of death (after motor vehicle crashes) in adolescents and young adults, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data, and suicide deaths have been rising for nearly two decades, with an especially concerning spike since 2010. Children’s hospital visits for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts have doubled since 2008.
Why mental health care deserts persist for U.S. children
Despite an uptick in the number of child psychiatrists nationwide, one out of five U.S. children live in a county with no such provider, according to a study published this week in the journal Pediatrics, which also found that those specialists are largely concentrated in certain pockets of the country. Meanwhile, for various reasons, only half of U.S. children with a mental health condition are receiving treatment.
Nationwide, 70 percent of counties had no child psychiatrists, and children were less likely to have access to professional mental health services if they lived in counties with lower income and education levels. Six states — Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, South Carolina, South Dakota and North Dakota — reported a decline in the number of child psychiatrists during the decade studied.
Risk for Death, Suicide Up in Teens Who Visit ED for Self-Harm
Adolescents with emergency department visits for self-harm have increased rates of recurrent self-harm, mortality, and suicide, according to a study published online Nov. 4 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.
William Gardner, Ph.D., from the University of Ottawa in Ontario, Canada, and colleagues used administrative data for 403,805 adolescents aged 13 to 17 years presenting to Ontario emergency departments in 2011 to 2013. A total of 5,661 adolescents with self-harm visits were propensity-matched to 10,731 adolescents who presented for reasons other than self-harm.
Black Teen Suicide Rate Reaches Historic High
African American teenagers in the United States historically have had lower suicide rates than their white counterparts – until now.
“Parents should take heed when they observe specific warning signs like changes in behavior, including difficulty concentrating, difficulty focusing on school or following routine activities, researching ways to kill oneself on the internet, increasing the use of alcohol or other drugs, and acting recklessly,” said Dr. Fran Walfish, a Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist and the author of “The Self-Aware Parent.”
A new study analyzing suicide among American teens by a team led by researchers at the McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research at New York University have uncovered several troubling trends from 1991 to 2017, among Black high school students in particular.
Researchers discovered that between 1991 and 2017, there has been an increase in the number of African American teens who said they had attempted suicide in the past year. Suicide rates for teenagers of other races and ethnicities either remained the same or decreased over that period. The researchers did not cite a reason for the trend.
New Initiative Aims to Prevent Youth Suicide
A teenage boy arrives at Seattle Children’s Emergency Department (ED) with an increased heart rate. His parents are scared and unsure of what could be causing their son’s pulse to spike. While the nurse takes the patient’s vitals, she asks him a series of questions about suicide — prompting the patient to share that he tried to overdose on prescription medication the night before. The nurse informs the provider, and an immediate plan is set in motion to further assess not only the patient’s physical health, but his mental health, as well.
A 10-year-old girl enters the ED with a sprained elbow after taking a tumble on the soccer field. Her parents have been taking her to therapy to help with her anxiety, and the therapist communicates his findings with them often. Because she is so young, the therapist has never directly asked the patient if she’s ever had suicidal thoughts. After the ED nurse initiates suicide-screening questions, the girl admits that she has had thoughts about harming herself in the past.
Media Reports on Celeb Suicides Could Trigger Copycats: How the media reports on celebrity suicides may increase the risk for copycats, a new study suggests.
But following guidelines on the reporting of these suicides can reduce the risk of others following suit, researchers added.
“Suicide needs to be reported on as a public health issue every single time, rather than a story focused on the celebrity’s death and the method of that death,” said researcher Arielle Sheftall, from the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.
For the study, she and her team used 14 variables from recommendations by the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on how to report on suicide, which include not sensationalizing the death and framing the report as a public health issue. The researchers looked at how the guidelines were used after the suicides of designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain.
After reviewing newspaper articles from across the United States, they found that some media didn’t adhere to several of the suicide reporting guidelines.
On average, only seven of the 14 guidelines were followed and only two were followed by all the newspapers.
Easy access to guns is driving America’s suicide epidemic By Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.)
Our country is experiencing a suicide epidemic. More than 47,000 Americans died by suicide in 2017—an average of 129 per day. It is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for more fatalities than many common diseases such as Parkinson’s, liver disease and hypertension. And the problem is getting worse—the suicide rate rose by about 30 percent in the last two decades, with increases for almost every age group.
Easy access to guns is a major cause of these horrifying numbers, according to a new report from my staff on the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee. Firearms were used in more than half of suicides in 2017. Approximately 85 percent of suicide attempts with a gun end in death, compared to less than 5 percent without a gun.
There is a clear positive association between levels of household gun ownership and suicide rates. This is true not only for the population as a whole, but also for every age group and both men and women. Access to a firearm triples the risk of death by suicide.
One person dies every 12 minutes by suicide; Learn to recognize symptoms and how to help
Nearly 45,000 Americans die by suicide each year — one person every 12 minutes. And for every death there are more than 22 suicide attempts.
To compound the tragedy, suicide can be prevented. It is up to everyone to learn the warning signs and reach out and help those with suicidal thoughts and feelings.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention and its many national and local community resource partner organizations suggest taking these five steps when you are concerned about someone: Ask, Keep them Safe, Be There, Help them Connect and Follow up.
Instagram expands ban on suicide content to cover cartoons and memes
Instagram has expanded a ban on graphical self-harm imagery to include a broader range of content depicting suicide, including fictional illustrations of self-harm and suicide methods such as drawings, cartoons and memes.
“This past month, we further expanded our policies to prohibit more types of self-harm and suicide content. We will no longer allow fictional depictions of self-harm or suicide on Instagram, such as drawings or memes or content from films or comics that use graphic imagery,” writes Instagram boss, Adam Mosseri, explaining the latest policy shift. “We will also remove other imagery that may not show self-harm or suicide, but does include associated materials or methods.”
Classmates say 4th grader who died by suicide was bullied
Neighbors are demanding change after a fourth grade boy they say was bullied at school killed himself earlier this week.
Britney Blackwell said the student, who we are not naming out of respect for his family’s privacy, was like family.
“It just broke my heart because now I know that he is not going to come to my house again,” Blackwell told WDEF-TV. “He is not going to give me a hug and say, ‘Hey sister, hey family. I miss you.’ I am not going to see (him) again.”
Suicide Is Preventable. Hospitals and Doctors Are Finally Catching Up
The suicidal thoughts started when Kristina Mossgraber was 17. A loud voice in her head told her that she was a bad person, a failure, better off dead. She cut herself in secret and told no one about the thoughts slamming around her brain, except her pediatrician, who dismissed them as normal teen angst. But her suicidal thoughts and behaviors didn’t stop. “I was so good at hiding it and kind of normalizing it.” She remembers thinking, “I just need to keep these to myself.”
She did, all through her 20s and early 30s, until one September day in 2014 she drove three hours from her home in Rochester, N.Y., where no one would find her, and cut her neck and the veins down her arms. After struggling to hide her wounds for four days, she went to an emergency room. A doctor sent her home. “They didn’t think I was suicidal enough,” she says.
Most Americans think there is stigma associated with mental illness – CBS News Poll
Two in three Americans think mental illness is a very serious public health problem, and few say there are adequate services and support in the U.S. for people living with it. Nearly nine in 10 do think there is at least some stigma and discrimination associated with mental illness in society today, but more than a third say there is less compared to 10 years ago. And this health issue is personal for most Americans: a majority say they personally know someone who has been diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
Gun Suicide Deaths are Increasing, Costing Billions Per Year, Report Shows
Access to firearms triples the risk of death by suicide, which is having a punishing effect on the U.S. economy, a startling new report from the United States Joint Economic Committee showed.
The report documented the alarming extent to which gun violence and suicide overlap to exact an economic and societal toll in the nation. Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the report also showed that the rate of suicide has steadily risen, increasing by 30 percent over the past two decades, and suicide and self-harm has cost Americans as much as $70 billion each year.
In 2017, more than 47,000 Americans died by suicide and another 1.4 million attempted it. According to the report, firearms are the leading method for suicide: 51 percent of related deaths are carried out with a firearm. And out of all firearm deaths, 60 percent are attributable to suicide.
Youth suicide rates in CT nearly doubled in one year
The suicide rate among young people in Connecticut nearly doubled in a single year, according to a Hearst Connecticut Media analysis.
Nationwide, suicide rates among 10- to 24-year-olds have increased, the Centers for Disease Control said last week. The suicide rates went from 6.8 for every 100,000 people in 2007 to 10.6 per 100,000 in 2017.
In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for U.S. residents between the ages of 10 and 24, according to the CDC.
Youth suicide rates in Connecticut have fluctuated — 5.35 per 100,000 residents in 2000; 3.73 per 100,000 residents in 2003; 5.57 in 2010; and 4.34 in 2016 — though the rate nearly doubled in 2017 from the previous year.
Utah researchers identify differences in brains of youth with depression, past suicide attempts
University of Utah researchers say they’ve discovered differences in the way brains of young adults and teens who have experienced depression and suicidal behavior work.
The findings could bring hope to those struggling and might eventually lead to new treatments, researchers say.
“There are lots of worried family members, or family members who have already gone through the heartache of losing someone. And there are lots of patients who might have lost hope that there might be good treatments for them,” said Scott Langenecker, professor of psychiatry at U. Health and senior author on the study published last week in Psychological Medicine.
“Every step we take toward defining some of the biological risk factors for depression and for suicide means we’re one step closer to identifying ways to modify those risk factors.”
Teen Suicide Is on the Rise and No One Knows Why: A new CDC report reveals that teenage suicide rates have increased exponentially in the past decade
A new finding from a Centers for Disease Control report has epidemiologists and mental health experts stumped and concerned. According to the report, teenage suicide rates have increased nearly 56% from 2007 to 2017. The rate of 6.8 deaths per 100,000 people between the ages of 10 and 24 has jumped to about 10.8 deaths. What’s worse, mental health experts have little explanation for what’s driving this increase, making it difficult to know what tack to take in terms of providing early intervention
In itself, the fact that suicide rates among teens are rising is somewhat to be expected: suicide rates have risen across the board over the past few years, rising 33% from 1999 to 2017, according to data from the American Psychiatric Association (APA). Yet the rise in teenage suicides specifically has far outpaced that of the increase in suicides in general. It is now the second-leading cause of death for teenagers, right behind accidental deaths.
CDC Finds Rising Suicide Rates For Young People
A new report by the CDC finds that death rates by suicide have increased for 10-to-24 year-olds between 2007 and 2017.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: The number of children and young adults dying by suicide continues to rise, and a new report says the trend affects children as young as 10. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published that report. Here’s NPR’s Rhitu Chatterjee.
RHITU CHATTERJEE, BYLINE: Sally Curtin is a statistician with the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics. She and a colleague looked at deaths by suicide for 10- to 24-year-olds in the 21st century and found that the rate had increased since 2007.
SALLY CURTIN: It increased 56% from 2007 to 2017
CHATTERJEE: For the youngest group, the 10- to 14-year-olds, the rate had nearly tripled to about 500 suicide deaths in 2017. What’s troubling, says Curtin, is that the rise in rates for the entire group has been faster in recent years.
CURTIN: Not only is suicide trending upward, but the pace of increase is actually accelerating.
It Can Take Weeks for College Students to Get the Mental Health Help They Ask For. That’s a Seriously Dangerous Delay. And it needs to change.
Between 2010 and 2016, the number of students seeking on-campus counseling shot up by 30 percent—more than five times the growth of overall college enrollment. The result: By 2018, 34 percent of school health centers reported wait times, per the Association for University and College Counseling Center Directors (AUCCCD). For students on those lists, the average wait time was 17 business days. But at some schools, it stretched to 34.7 days. That’s seven weeks, FYI, or half a semester.
“We’re hearing it more and more,” says Alison Malmon, the founder and executive director of Active Minds, a network of student-run groups that promotes mental health awareness. “What used to be a problem of a two-week wait time has now become four to five weeks.”
Cosmo’s own data confirms these stats. Among the college students we talked to who had asked for counseling, 61 percent said it took a week or more to see someone; 21 percent said more than two weeks.
Half of millennials have left jobs for mental health reasons, survey shows
A new survey examines the role of mental health in the workplace, and the results show that millennials and those part of Generation Z have left jobs for mental health reasons.
According to the survey from Mind Share Partners, a nonprofit organization that tackles issues related to mental health in the workplace, one-fifth of respondents voluntarily left jobs, at least in part, for mental health reasons.
The nonprofit says in the report, which was published in the Harvard Business Review, that this is “a significant finding for companies seeking to recruit and retain talent.”
In addition, more than half of millennials and 75 percent of Gen Zers said they had left a job, at least in part, for mental health reasons. Less than 10 percent of baby boomers said they had left a workplace due to mental health reasons.
Rising suicide rates at college campuses prompt concerns over mental health care
Stanford University has agreed to change its involuntary leave of absence policy, mental health staffing and training to better accommodate students facing mental illness crises, including those who have been hospitalized following a suicide attempt. The decision is the result of a settlement agreement with a group of students who filed a class action lawsuit to reform allegedly discriminatory policies affecting student in mental health crises.
This development is timely as it directly addresses concerns over global suicide trends.
Suicide rates continue to increase across all age groups in America, but the rising youth suicide epidemic, which has progressively increased since the 1950s, is particularly concerning among those who study it.
Young people often turn to common medicine-cabinet drugs when attempting suicide, study says
A new study led by researchers at Nationwide Children’s Hospital indicates that people ages 10 to 25 who attempt suicide by poisoning most often turn to whatever is available–from over-the-counter pain relievers and allergy pills to antidepressants and ADHD medications. They want parents to rethink how they store and manage medications.
Young people attempting to kill themselves by poisoning most often turn to drugs that are found in medicine cabinets and easily accessible at any drug store or grocery, according to a new study.
Over-the-counter analgesics such as aspirin, Tylenol and Advil topped the list of all substances used in nearly 1.7 million suicide attempts nationwide by people ages 10 to 25 from 2000 to 2018, according to the study published online Monday in the journal Clinical Toxicology.
Antidepressants followed, with sedatives and hypnotics the third most commonly used substances. Antihistamines, like Benadryl and other allergy drugs, and antipsychotics rounded out the top five.
Health Check Kids: Suicide prevention efforts making a difference
Suicide prevention efforts are targeting youth and making a difference in Rhode Island.
In Rhode Island, suicide is the number two cause of death in young people–15 to 24–second only to unintentional motor vehicle accidents.
However, the numbers are going down thanks, in part to a partnership between the state’s Department of Health, the RI assistance program, and Lifespan.
The key is recognizing signs and symptoms.
“Suicidal ideation is not the same as suicide attempts. It’s usually a sign that they feel helpless or hopeless,” said Dr. Jennifer Jencks, assistant director of Lifespan Pediatric Behavioral Health Emergency Services.
Brain Stimulation Shows Promise in Treating Severe Depression
Years ago, more than two dozen patients received an electrical implant to counter their depression. They’re still feeling better, a new study finds.
For more than a decade, doctors have been using brain-stimulating implants to treat severe depression in people who do not benefit from medication, talk therapy or electroshock sessions. The treatment is controversial — any psychosurgery is, given its checkered history — and the results have been mixed. Two major trials testing stimulating implant for depression were halted because of disappointing results, and the approach is not approved by federal health regulators.
Now, a team of psychiatric researchers has published the first long-term results, reporting Friday on patients who had stimulating electrodes implanted as long ago as eight years. The individuals have generally fared well, maintaining their initial improvements. The study, appearing in the American Journal of Psychiatry, was small, with just 28 subjects. Even still, experts said the findings were likely to extend interest in a field that has struggled.
“The most impressive thing here is the sustained response,” Dr. Darin Dougherty, director of neurotherapeutics at Massachusetts General Hospital, said. “You do not see that for anything in this severe depression. The fact that they had this many people doing well for that long, that’s a big deal.”
Majority Of U.S. Gun Deaths Are Suicides, But A New Poll Suggests Few Americans Know It
Suicide is the leading cause of gun deaths in the United States, but most Americans don’t know that, according to a new national poll from APM Research Lab, Call To Mind and Guns & America — and experts say that misperception may be handcuffing suicide prevention efforts.
The poll, which asked more than 1,000 Americans what they think the leading cause of gun deaths is, found that 33% of respondents chose homicides outside of mass shootings, while 25% thought that mass shootings caused the most gun deaths
Only 23% said suicides are the leading cause of gun deaths. The remaining respondents chose accidental shootings or said they didn’t know.
These crisis text lines and apps are an alternative to get help without having to call the suicide prevention hotline
Suicide has become the second leading cause of death for young Americans aged 10 to 24, and the rate has skyrocketed over the past decade.
Research shows that teenagers prefer texting to talking on the phone, even with friends.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has a chat option, and there’s a 24-hour crisis text line available, too. Several suicide prevention apps are also free to download.
The rate of Americans aged 10 to 24 who die by suicide has skyrocketed over the past decade, becoming the second highest cause of death among the demographic.
Crisis hotlines like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline have been touted as the No. 1 resource for people with suicidal thoughts and intentions. But the latest research on teenage technology use shows they prefer texting to talking on the phone, even with their friends.
After 16-year-old Channing Smith died by suicide last week, his brother, Joshua Smith, wondered in an interview with Insider whether a hotline is the most effective resource for young people who are preparing to take their own lives.
Suicide prevention: Putting the person at the center
The focus of this year’s World Mental Health Day on suicide prevention is very timely because although much is known about the epidemiology of suicide, its causes, and approaches to prevention, action and interventions are lacking across local, regional, and national levels for different population groups.
In this Editorial, we discuss the key findings and recommendations arising from the relevant evidence but argue that the focus on preventing suicide must extend beyond prevention of suicide mortality to addressing the loss of hope that underlies each attempt to end a person’s life.
How Social Media Has Made Us More Willing to Talk About Suicide
“Daddy, daddy, daddy, come back!”
The 3-year-old cries from her bed.
“Daddy not coming back?” she asks between tears.
But she knows the answer. Her father, Denny Bates, died by suicide in March.
“I miss Dada,” she said.
The heart wrenching Facebook video posted in June has received more than 10 million views and has been shared more than 150k times. Titled “The reality of suicide,” it’s just one of multiple video and blog posts Dani Bates has posted to raise awareness about suicide and reduce the stigma around talking about it.
“It’s so visual and real and raw. I think that’s why it’s important to share the videos,” Bates said. “I could talk about Winnie’s grief all day, but seeing it and hearing it does something to a person. It hits so much harder.”
Say Something app for students addresses suicide, violence and safety concerns
School districts across the Bay Area are seeing life-saving results from a new app in which students report anonymous tips.
It’s called Say Something and students are using the app to notify administrators about thoughts of suicide, violence and more.
The idea isn’t new. If you see something, say something. It’s a simple message, now in the form of an app, encouraging students to anonymously intervene.
“We had a student that was contemplating suicide and several friends reported it online on the Say Something app,” said Brentwood Unified School District Director of Student Services, Chris Calabrese.
Chatham Township’s Fourth Annual ‘Out of the Darkness’ Walk Draws More than 400, Raises $83K for Suicide Prevention
Valerie Olpp reads the poem, “We Remember Them” by Rabbi Jack Riemer
CHATHAM, NJ – Jessica Romeo’s mother was lost to suicide 20 years ago, but the Chatham Township resident still honors her memory every year.
Like everyone else at the fourth annual “Out of the Darkness” community walk held Saturday at Cougar Field to raise money for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, Romeo has a story to tell about someone close to her that she lost to suicide. Romeo’s mother, Rhonda Romeo, was a school nurse at the South Orange Middle School who succumbed to bipolar depression.
“So many students at her funeral came up to us and said that my mother had stopped them from taking their lives,” Romeo said. “She had a Hot Chocolate Club at school, where a student who was having a hard time could stay with her until they felt better. She knew how to help so many others, but she couldn’t help herself.”
A College Suicide Prevention Bill Would Put Mental Health Resources On Student IDs
As university admissions rates decrease, workloads increase, and career opportunities become more competitive, college students continue to face mental health struggles. Over 60% of college students in the U.S. reported feeling anxiety over the past year, according to the American College Health Association’s Fall 2018 National College Health Assessment, and 10.5% of U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 25 reported having suicidal thoughts in 2017, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That means there are a lot of students who may need help — and who may not know how to get it.
“It’s easy to isolate oneself and have the sense that no one is really tracking on you, like in high school or when living at home,” Eileen Purdy, MSW, an anxiety therapist, tells Bustle about the transition to college. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is the second leading cause of death for 10-34 year olds in the U.S. Among the general U.S. population, suicide ranks as the tenth leading cause of death.
Suicide Data Reveal New Intervention Spots, Such as Motels and Animal Shelters
Patterns show places where people who intend to kill themselves go—and give health workers better chances to stop them.
Hanging on Kimberly Repp’s office wall in Hillsboro, Ore., is a sign in Latin: “Hic locus est ubi mors gaudet succurrere vitae,” meaning “This is a place where the dead delight in helping the living.”
For medical examiners, it is a mission. Their job is to investigate deaths and learn from them, for the benefit of us all. Repp, however, is not a medical examiner; she is a microbiologist. She is also an epidemiologist for Oregon’s Washington County, where she had been accustomed to studying infectious diseases such as flu or norovirus outbreaks among the living.
But in 2012 she was asked by county officials to look at suicide. The request introduced her to the world of death investigations and also appears to have led to something remarkable: in this suburban county of 600,000, just west of Portland, the suicide rate now is going down. That result is remarkable because national suicide rates have risen, despite decades-long efforts to reverse the deadly trend.
Addressing Suicide and Depression on Campus, these preventative measures can help students and faculty
Suicide is a difficult topic to discuss earnestly. It can be particularly difficult for college students, especially if they are in a new environment, far from home, and without a nearby network of friends and family.
While one can easily cite statistics highlighting the growing number of suicides in the United States and call attention to the fact that it is now the second leading cause of death among college students, the actual process of reaching out to someone who may be contemplating suicide either due to a mental health crisis or other factors is more difficult. As September is National Suicide Prevention Month, it seems more than appropriate to discuss how one can help prevent suicide on campus.
What Are You Doing to Prevent Suicide? by Dr. Mark Friedlander and Dr. Christine Moutier
Suicide is a serious and growing public health problem. Currently, suicide is one of the leading causes of death among America’s workforce, representing the second leading cause of death for adults ages 25-34 and the fourth leading cause of death for adults ages 35-54.
As employees are spending an increasing amount of time in the office, employers cannot ignore the effect that personal and work-related stress has on employee mental health. Among adults who have been employed in the past 12 months, more than one in 10 have missed work days because they were too anxious (14%) or too depressed (16%) to go to work, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).
Clearly, mental health also affects employee performance, including absenteeism and decreased productivity. Long-term, these issues also have a significant effect on a company’s bottom line – suicide cost the U.S. economy $70 billion in 2018, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Fortunately, there are steps employers can take to support the mental health of their employees and turn the tide on the suicide problem in this country.
Antidepressant Use Does Not Prevent Suicide, Study Finds
A new study has found that antidepressants are ineffective for reducing suicide attempts. The researchers found that about 20% of participants attempted suicide after being hospitalized for depression, whether they took antidepressants or not.
The researchers found a large spike in suicides just after initiating antidepressant use: up to 4 times higher in the month just after first taking an antidepressant than in later months.
However, as there was also an increase just before taking an antidepressant, the researchers argue that this spike in suicidality is due to “disease severity” rather than the antidepressant use. The researchers conclude that antidepressants do not reduce suicidality.
Merete Osler led the study at the Bispebjerg and Frederiksberg Hospitals in Denmark. It was published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica.
Facebook bans self-harm images in fight against suicide
Facebook Inc. will no longer allow graphic images of self-harm on its platform as it tightens its policies on suicide content amid growing criticism of how social media companies moderate violent and potentially dangerous content.
The social network also said last Tuesday that self-injury related content will now become harder to search for on Instagram and that the company will ensure that it does not appear as recommended material in the Explore section on the photo-sharing app.
Facebook’s statement came on World Suicide Prevention Day and follows Twitter Inc.’s remarks that content related to self-harm would no longer be reported as abusive in an effort to reduce the stigma around suicide.
As Student Suicides Rise, A Harvard Case Opens New Questions About Schools’ Responsibility
Luke Tang was heading into the spring of freshman year at Harvard University in 2015 when he attempted to take his own life.
A skilled violinist and math whiz and the youngest son of Chinese immigrants, Tang survived the attempt and was whisked away to a psychiatric facility under Harvard’s purview. To return to his studies, school officials required that the 19-year-old sign a contract promising to follow his doctors’ treatment plan.
But Tang did not keep up with mental health services after going away for the summer. And Harvard officials apparently did not check up with him upon his return in the fall. About two weeks after arriving on campus, Tang killed himself in the basement of his college dormitory.
Since then, his parents Christina and Wendell Tang have been searching for answers.
“We thought he was fine,” Christina Tang said in a phone interview from her New Orleans home. “We thought when he got out of the hospital, he got his help.”
Between 2007 and 2017, nine Harvard undergraduates in Massachusetts took their own lives, according to an investigation by the New England Center for Investigative Reporting. Six of them, including Tang, were of Asian descent. Asian Americans only make up about 20 percent of Harvard’s undergraduate student body.
Study: More U.S. Teen Girls Are Victims of Suicide
The gender gap in teen suicide is smaller than previously estimated, with more girls dying by suicide each year, a new study contends.
Suicide death rates among 10- to 19-year-old girls have been systematically underestimated, while rates among boys have been overestimated, according to the report published Sept. 13 in JAMA Network Open.
Experts have pegged the male-to-female gender gap in suicide among teens at 3-to-1, but it’s really closer to 2-to-1, researchers said.
“The reduced gender gap in suicide is a surprise,” said lead researcher Dr. Bin Yu, a doctoral student in epidemiology at the University of Florida. “It is really important that we not underestimate the risk of suicide among girls.”
Facebook wants to fight teen suicide. Experts aren’t sure they’re doing it right
Suicide among young people is on the rise, and many point to social media as the cause.
Facebook announced in a blog post this week that it is taking steps to fight the youth suicide epidemic, including sharing data about how its users talk about suicide and self-harm and hiring a safety policy manager focusing on health and well-being.
Among the noteworthy changes in policy is Facebook’s decision to “no longer allow graphic cutting images.” The company, which owns Instagram, said it would also “[make] it harder to search for this type of content and [keep] it from being recommended in Explore.” That’s in addition to an announcement made in February that Instagram would start blurring images that depicted graphic self-harm. (Facebook did not return a request for comment.)
But while researchers studying the rise in suicide among young people applaud Facebook for making an effort, they say it’s unclear how the company’s very public announcement will translate into tangible results.
The idea that social media is behind a worrisome spate of youth suicides in the last few years is increasingly well documented. While not limited to social sites, the phenomenon of suicide contagion—where suicides reported in the media lead to an increase in suicides or suicide attempts—is particularly dangerous when mixed with digital platforms designed for viral sharing.
What you need to know about suicide prevention: A doctor weighs in
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates have increased more than 30 percent in half of all U.S. states since 1999. The CDC also reports that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., and the 2nd leading cause of death of people ages 10 to 34.
Yahoo Lifestyle spoke to Elizabeth Lombardo, a clinical psychologist, about what everyone needs to know about suicide and what the warning signs are.
“The number one indicator is actually not depression, but hopelessness,” Lombardo says. “Hopelessness is thinking, ‘Things will never get better.’”
“Life is up and down. We all have times when things are going well, and eventually things will not go so well,” says Lombardo. “When you’re in that kind of rut, if you wait it out, you will always go up.”
The Suicide Rate is Rising in the U.S.
Alexis Wnuk, a science writer for Brainfacts.org worked with designer Adrienne Tong to produce this exceptional info-graphic.
One sentence introduces this image: “Since 2001, more than 300,000 Americans have been victims of homicide. More than twice as many — 638,467 — died by suicide in that same period.”
Can a New Diagnosis Help Prevent Suicide?
There is no established method of identifying patients in immediate danger of attempting suicide. Some researchers are trying to change this.
One night in her Nashville apartment, Bre Banks read a comment from her boyfriend on Facebook. They were in a shaky spell, and his words seemed proof she would lose him. She put her laptop down on the couch and headed to the bedroom to cry. “My legs seized up, and I fell,” she recalled. With her knees and forehead pressing into the carpet, she heard a voice that said, “Slit your wrists, slit your wrists.” She saw herself in the bathtub with the blood flowing. She was terrified that if she moved she would die.
Banks, then 25, was a disciplined graduate student with a job and close friends and had no psychiatric history. “I had never considered suicide an option,” she says. But for the next three days, she couldn’t sleep while the voice and disturbing images persisted. After seeing a therapist, she decided to teach herself techniques from dialectical behavior therapy, one of the few treatments shown to reduce suicidality. The voices and images came back over the next few months, but eventually faded. Eight years later, Banks now evaluates suicide prevention programs across Tennessee as a manager at the large mental health provider Centerstone’s research institute, and she and the same boyfriend just celebrated their 10th anniversary.
In the public imagination, suicide is often understood as the end of a torturous decline caused by depression or another mental illness. But clinicians and researchers know that suicidal crises frequently come on rapidly, escalating from impulse to action within a day, hours, or just minutes. Many also point to the fact that they may strike people like Banks, who are otherwise in good mental health.
Teen suicide: What parents and caregivers need to know
Is your teen at risk of suicide? While no teen is immune, there are factors that can make some adolescents more vulnerable than others. Understand how to tell if your teen might be suicidal and where to turn for help and treatment.
Read this article to learn:
What makes teens vulnerable to suicide?
What are the risk factors for teen suicide?
What role do antidepressants play?
What are the warning signs that a teen might be suicidal?
What should I do if I suspect my teen is suicidal?
What can I do to prevent teen suicide?
Suicide Is A Public Health Epidemic: Prevention Is A Start, But Not Enough
In spite of increased awareness, suicide continues to be a major public health problem in the United States, and around the world. Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., where the rate is higher than at any point since World War II. The majority of suicides in the U.S. are among working age adults. Business leaders are uniquely positioned to make a significant contribution to addressing this crisis.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention urges business leaders to be “visible, vocal and visionary” in directing suicide prevention efforts. Communication and connection are critical in combatting suicide and mental illness—and both are at the top of any business leader’s job description. By putting themselves upfront in their company’s mental health initiatives, business leaders can go a long way toward setting the tone for a productive conversation about suicide prevention.
Working age suicides have increased 34% in the U.S. in the years 2000-2016, according to a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC puts the promotion of “social connectedness” at the top of its list of recommendations. Similarly, the organizers of World Suicide Prevention Day are highlighting working together and collaboration in their outreach efforts.
One person dies every 40 seconds from suicide, World Health Organization says
The number of people worldwide who die from suicide is declining but one person still kills themselves every 40 seconds, according to new figures from the World Health Organization, which said countries needed to do more to stop these preventable deaths.
Between 2010 and 2016, the global suicide rate decreased by 9.8%, the UN health body said in its second report on the issue. The only region to see an increase was the Americas.
“Every death is a tragedy for family, friends and colleagues. Yet suicides are preventable. We call on all countries to incorporate proven suicide prevention strategies into national health and education programs in a sustainable way,” said WHO Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
WHO said close to 800,000 people die by suicide every year, more than those lost to malaria, breast cancer, or war and homicide, calling it a “serious global public health issue.” It said only 38 countries had suicide prevention strategies.
Dr. Christine Moutier on the ‘Unintended Consequences’ of Social Media: It’s time to stop the stigma and promote the positive.
On Sunday September 8, all Entercom radio stations across the country marked the start of National Suicide Prevention Week with a special commercial-free broadcast of I’m Listening, a two-hour program dedicated to ending the stigma of talking about mental health.
Along with artists, athletes, and listeners sharing their story, Dr. Christine Moutier from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention joined the show to talk about the steps being taken to curb the “unintended consequences” of social media.
“We’re learning so much about what it means to live out this newfound value on mental health,” explains AFSP’s Chief Medical Officer. “Certain things like the likes, and some types of social media utilization have really led to worsening in mental health. Young people, advocates who are young people have learned that for themselves there are times that they should unplug and take a break for the sake of their mental health.”
Four Leading National Organizations Launch Suicide Prevention Template Plan for Schools
Suicide prevention among young people is a growing concern across the country. According to the National Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS), 31.5 percent of American high school students reported experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness, and 17.2 percent reported they have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. This alarming shift has significant implications for schools, which have a critical role and responsibility in identifying and providing interventions for students at risk for suicide ideation and behavior.
Having effective suicide prevention policies is essential to meeting this responsibility. To support schools’ efforts, four leading national organizations – the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, the American School Counselor Association, the National Association of School Psychologists and The Trevor Project – have collaborated to update the Model School Policy, a comprehensive guidebook for school administrators and policy makers containing best practices in suicide prevention, intervention and postvention policies for K-12 schools.
Access to an evidence-based model policy matters. In 2014 when the first Model School Policy was released, only five states required suicide prevention procedures for their school districts. Today, through the efforts of the above organizations and other volunteer advocates, there are 22 states with laws that require K-12 school districts to have a suicide prevention policy in place.
National Suicide Prevention Week: How Advocates, Artists Hope To Spark The Conversation
National Suicide Prevention Week starts tomorrow.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, killing about 47,000 people each year. But many people suffer in silence, because of the stigma.
Bob Gebbia, CEO of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and Alex Boyé, an artist trying to save lives through music, are working to change that.
“The important thing is: It is a preventable cause of death, there’s something we can do about it,” Gebbia told CBS2’s Cindy Hsu on Saturday. “That’s why Suicide Prevention Week is an important time to open that conversation up.”
When it comes to warning signs, Gebbia said you should listen and look for changes in your family or friends’ behavior.
“If they’re talking about feeling like a burden or feeling hopeless, or they don’t want to live anymore, we should take that seriously,” he said. “Those changes in behavior can include things like sleeping too much or too little, increased use of drugs and alcohol – that’s a serious problem. That could be an indication that they’re spiraling down.”
Economic hardship tied to increase in U.S. suicide rates, especially in rural areas
Whether they are densely populated or deeply rural, few communities in the United States have escaped a shocking increase in suicides over the last two decades. From 1999 to 2016 , suicide claimed the lives of 453,577 adults between the ages of 25 and 64 — enough to fill more than 1,000 jumbo jets.
Suicides reached a 50-year peak in 2017, the latest year for which reliable statistics are available. The vast majority of those suicides happened in the country’s cities and suburbs, where 80% of Americans live.
But a new study shows that the nation’s most rural counties have seen the toll of suicide rise furthest and fastest during those 18 years.
The new research ties high suicide rates everywhere to the unraveling of the social fabric that happens when local sports teams disband, beauty and barbershops close, and churches and civic groups dwindle. But in rural counties, especially, it finds a powerful link between suicide and economic deprivation — a measure that captures poverty, unemployment, low levels of education and reliance on government assistance.
The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Seize the Awkward campaign, in partnership with The JED Foundation and the Ad Council, continues to reach young people nationwide, encouraging them to have honest conversations with their friends about mental health, and giving them practical guidance on how to do so.
For Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, we’re pleased to announce the debut of these new videos created by musicians Aminé, Hayley Kiyoko, Christina Perri and Lindsey Stirling. Each artist shares a personal video story, demonstrating true vulnerability and urging young adults to create a safe space for their friends to open up about mental health challenges.
We hope you enjoy and share these videos, and help us to spread the word that any day is a good day to Seize the Awkward.
Click on the links below to view the new Seize the Awkward videos.
Why suicide prevention matters and what you can do
Every 12 minutes someone in the country dies of suicide, which has caused it to become the second leading cause of death for individuals between 18 and 34.
Anyone could be struggling with suicide; it affects all ages, genders and ethnicities. However, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, men are more likely to die by suicide, and certain demographic subgroups are at a higher risk, such as American Indian youth, middle-age people, as well as non-Hispanic white middle-aged and older males.
Why is this important? Nearly 45,000 suicides occurred in the United States in 2016 — more than twice the number of homicides, leading many experts and advocates to believe this should be viewed as a public health crisis.
How High Heat Can Impact Mental Health
Jeanetta Churchill is blasting the air conditioning in her Baltimore row house. A massive heat wave just swept through the city, with temperatures topping 100 degrees. “I don’t even want to see what my power bill is this coming month,” she says.
Keeping cool in the summer months isn’t just a matter of comfort, says Churchill. It helps her manage the symptoms of her bipolar disorder. Churchill says if she doesn’t keep her house cool enough to sleep through the night, she can spiral into a manic episode with fits of rapid talking, irrational purchases, or even suicidal thoughts.
She’s not alone. For the nearly 1 in 5 adults who experience mental illness, heat can be dangerous, according to Ken Duckworth, medical director for the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
Duckworth says prescribed medications are a major factor. If a patient is on anti-psychotics, for example, the medication can interfere with the body’s ability to regulate temperature, leading to dehydration or heat stroke, he says.
National Suicide Prevention Week is September 8-14. This year the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is encouraging people to create a safety net for those who are struggling – themselves included – by educating and inspiring them to feel as comfortable talking about mental health as they would their physical health. By knowing how to have a #RealConvo with the people in our lives, recognize the risks and warning signs for suicide, and understand the ways to connect to help, we can all play a role in making our communities safer.
We’ve created a toolkit filled with inspiration, guidance, social media sharables and more, enabling you to:
WATCH short, informative videos
SHARE images, and other goodies on social media
READ blogs featuring personal perspectives and expert guidance on how to have a #RealConvo
TAKE ACTION and get involved in the cause
The toolkit contains a calendar of events for September, including Twitter chats, as well as personal stories, #RealConvo guides, and further resources for those who are struggling. We’ll continue to add new social sharables, merchandise updates and more throughout the month.
So get excited! Together, we can make this the best National Suicide Prevention Week yet. Thank you for helping us to spread the word, get people talking more openly about mental health and suicide prevention, and make our communities and loved ones safer in the process.