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.
Mother’s Suit Blames Suicide of 9-Year-Old Girl on Bullying
The mother of a 9-year-old girl who took her own life filed suit Thursday blaming the fourth-grader’s death on educators she accused of ignoring the girl’s complaints about months of bullying by a boy.
Administrators and teachers at U.S. Jones Elementary School in the west Alabama town of Demopolis showed “deliberate and blatant indifference” to bullying McKenzie Adams endured before killing herself at her grandmother’s home in December 2018, the lawsuit claimed.
One white boy in particular taunted the black girl with “racial and gender based slurs,” the lawsuit said, but McKenzie wrote in her diary that another boy also harassed her.
The child, her mother and her grandmother all complained but school officials didn’t act to stop the bullying, the suit claimed. Instead, a teacher told McKenzie to “tell it to the wall because I do not want to hear it,” the lawsuit said. Rather than punishing the main bully, the teacher disciplined the girl for telling on him, it claimed.
Black kids and suicide: Why are rates so high, and so ignored?
Teen suicide rates among black youth are increasing. In 2016 and again in 2018, national data revealed that among children age 5-11, black children had the highest rate of death by suicide. For the years 2008 to 2012, 59 black youth died by suicide, up from 54 in the years 2003-2007.
Also, the 2015 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s biennial Youth Risk Behavior Survey reported that, compared to non-Hispanic white boys, black high-school age boys are more likely to have made serious suicide attempts that require medical attention.
I am a professor of psychology and also director of the culture, risk and resilience research laboratory at the University of Houston, and I recently co-authored a study that suggests that new risk profiles may be needed for better suicide prediction in African Americans in particular.
Suicide can be prevented, despite overwhelming belief that it can’t
There’s a misperception out there that suicide simply can’t be prevented, and if someone wants to attempt suicide, there’s no stopping them.
Thanks to additional education on the topic and an understanding of what people are going through, the Center for Disease Control and the QPR Institute have come up with ways to prevent something that was once thought inevitable.
According to the QPR Institute (Question, Persuade, Refer), research shows that the majority of people who attempt suicide give some sort of warning signs, whether they’re verbal or behavioral, of their intent to kill themselves.
Those warning signs are often given in the final week preceding an attempt, according to Open Heart Advocates Director Meghan Francone.
Secret hashtags and code names teens use to talk about suicide
Suicide is the cause of 13 percent of teenage deaths in the United States. In this day and age, many teens are turning to social media to post about their mental health and thoughts about self-harm.
“You feel safer behind a computer screen, than if you’re face to face with somebody,” clinical psychologist Dr. Rachel Needle said.
Dr. Needle says many are posting about suicide and depression using secret code names and hidden hashtags within their posts.
It’s a place where some believe their parents wouldn’t think to look, but Needle says parents need to pay more attention.
“For a lot of parents, they will go to panic,” she said. “It’s important that you keep your calm, as hard as that can be sometimes because you want your child to feel like they can talk to you openly.”
On social media, teen are using code names for mental health disorders, like annie for anxiety and sue for suicidal.
Hashtags #secretsociety123 or #KMS, which means kill yourself. Together, both hashtags have more than 2 million posts on Instagram.
Below is a list of more codes:
• Ana or Rex – Anorexia
• Mia or Bill – Bulimia
• Perry or Pat – Paranoia
• Cat or Sam – Self-harm
• Deb or Dan – Depression
What’s Behind the Dramatic Rise in Teen Suicide?
A child psychiatrist shares insights gained from his work with children and teens who have contemplated suicide
Life is hard, but the transition from child to teen can be especially rough. For a growing number of young people, the process is so unbearable they do the unthinkable.
According to an October 2019 report from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the suicide rate among U.S. children aged 10 through 14 has nearly tripled from 2007 to 2017. The suicide rate among older teenagers (15 to 19) has also increased by 76 percent
The report doesn’t try to explain these figures. But as the number of young people killing themselves climbs steadily over a decade, you can’t help but wonder why.
Dr. Suvrat Bhargave, a board-certified psychiatrist specializing in child and adolescent psychiatry, points to several contributing factors. Bhargave is saddened by the CDC statistics, but not surprised by them. Many of the kids who come to his office suffer from extreme anxiety and uncontrolled rage, and they confront pressures and circumstances unknown to previous generations. Bhargave profiles some of these cases in his new book, “A Moment Of Insight.”
The mental health crisis on campus and how colleges can fix it
When college students seek help for a mental health issue on campus—something they are doing more often—the place they usually go is the college counseling center.
But while the stigma of seeking mental health support has gone down, it has created a new problem: College counseling centers are now struggling to meet the increased demand.
As a researcher who examines problems faced by college students in distress, I see a way to better support students’ mental health. In addition to offering individual counseling, colleges should also focus on what we in the mental health field refer to as population health and prevention.
‘He never looked depressed’: Elementary-age suicide is heartbreaking. How can you help?
Amber Satterfield knew her firstborn child. She was 19 when he was born; they’d grown up together.
She knew neon green was Zakiah’s favorite color, that football was his passion, that he someday wanted to be a rock star or a missionary — or both. She knew he’d had some recent struggles in school.
But she couldn’t know that her sweet, smart, sensitive child would take his own life — at age 9.
Satterfield found people had trouble understanding a child as young as Zakiah could die by suicide — especially when he’d never broached the subject.
“We don’t know how he knew how to do what he did, or how the idea even came into his mind to do what he did,” she said. “We had never, ever even heard that suicide happened in children that young.”
Satterfield doesn’t share the details of Zakiah’s death except to close family and friends, and Knox News does not reveal the specifics of most suicides.
For ages 10-24, suicide is the second leading cause of death in the United States. Suicide is far less common in children Zakiah’s age and younger than it is in adults, or even in older children and teens.
Why Are Young Americans Killing Themselves? Suicide is now their second-leading cause of death.
Teenagers and young adults in the United States are being ravaged by a mental health crisis — and we are doing nothing about it. As of 2017, statistics show that an alarming number of them are suffering from depression and dying by suicide. In fact, suicide is now the second leading cause of death among young people, surpassed only by accidents.
After declining for nearly two decades, the suicide rate among Americans ages 10 to 24 jumped 56 percent between 2007 and 2017, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And for the first time the gender gap in suicide has narrowed: Though the numbers of suicides are greater in males, the rates of suicide for female youths increased by 12.7 percent each year, compared with 7.1 percent for male youths.
At the same time, the rate of teen depression shot up 63 percent, an alarming but not surprising trend given the link between suicide and depression: In 2017, 13 percent of teens reported at least one episode of depression in the past year, compared with 8 percent of teens in 2007, according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health.
How can we leverage technology for better suicide prevention?
Technology hasn’t yet played the role many expected it would in helping to prevent suicides. But leveraging digital health and machine learning in three areas believed to contribute to suicide deaths could go far in helping save people’s lives, says a “Viewpoint” column published in JAMA Psychiatry.
“The current, limited technological advances in suicide prevention do not reflect a failure of technology or big data, but rather a need to realign research aims and clinical use with prevention research that address the upstream suicide risk that precedes suicide crisis,” wrote psychiatrist John Torous, MD, and clinical psychologist Rheeda Walker, PhD.
As rates of suicide attempts and deaths have recently increased to 50-year highs, the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention identified three health care gaps that contribute to suicide death:
• Failing to proactively identify suicide risk.
• Not acting efficiently for safety.
• Inadequately providing supportive contacts for people at risk of suicide.
Why Is America So Depressed?
It’s no coincidence that our politics and our mental health have declined so rapidly, at the same time.
Everyone has his or her own definition of a political crisis. Mine is when our collective mental health starts having a profound effect on our politics — and vice versa.
It cannot be a simple coincidence that the two have declined in tandem. The American Psychiatric Association reported that from 2016 to 2017, the number of adults who described themselves as more anxious than the previous year rose 36 percent.
In 2017, more than 17 million American adults had at least one major depressive episode, as did three million adolescents ages 12 to 17. Forty million adults now suffer from an anxiety disorder — nearly 20 percent of the adult population. (These are the known cases of depression and anxiety. The actual numbers must be dumbfounding.)
The really sorrowful reports concern suicide. Among all Americans, the suicide rate increased by 33 percent between 1999 and 2017.
Apps don’t provide reliable help for suicide prevention: A study found non-functioning crisis hotline numbers in six apps
A handful of depression management and suicide prevention apps — downloaded millions of times — included incorrect or nonfunctional contact information for suicide crisis help lines, according to a new analysis. While apps can offer people with suicidal thoughts or behaviors an important lifeline, experts are worried that many of the apps available on the Apple App Store or Google Play may not be following best practices, or connecting people with appropriate resources.
Depression management and suicide prevention apps can fill an important role: many people feel more comfortable looking for information or seeking help online, and report that it’s easier to ask questions and share problems online rather than speaking with a person face to face. But that makes it even more important that the digital tools people turn to are up to the highest standards for prevention.
Depression and suicide linked to air pollution in new global study: Cutting toxic air might prevent millions of people getting depression, research suggests
People living with air pollution have higher rates of depression and suicide, a systematic review of global data has found.
Cutting air pollution around the world to the EU’s legal limit could prevent millions of people becoming depressed, the research suggests. This assumes that exposure to toxic air is causing these cases of depression. Scientists believe this is likely but is difficult to prove beyond doubt.
The particle pollution analysed in the study is produced by burning fossil fuels in vehicles, homes and industry. The researchers said the new evidence further strengthened calls to tackle what the World Health Organization calls the “silent public health emergency” of dirty air.
“We’ve shown that air pollution could be causing substantial harm to our mental health, making the case for cleaning up the air we breathe even more urgent,” said Isobel Braithwaite, at University College London (UCL), who led the research.
Few Apps for Depression & Suicide Prevention Meet Clinical Guidelines
Most (93 percent) mobile apps for suicide prevention and depression management do not provide all six suicide prevention strategies commonly recommended in international clinical guidelines, according to a new study led by Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore.
Currently, there are more than 10,000 mental health apps available on the Apple App store and Google Play. But even as digital mental health interventions seem to offer a promising alternative to in-person visits, very few apps available in the app stores have been evaluated in clinical trials or by regulatory bodies.
The study, published online in the journal BMC Medicine, highlights the need for responsible design and creation of guidelines for apps that could have a significant impact on people’s lives.
Suicide Network of Teens Is Linked to 15 Deaths
In November 2019, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) published a documentary on a suicide network of young women on the popular social media application Instagram. Journalist Annemarte Moland works for NRK, a Norwegian government-owned radio and television public broadcasting company. Moland found the online community when she went to a Norwegian town to do a story on 3 teenage girls who had committed suicide. One of the girls had a private Instagram account where she posted thoughts about suicide and self-harm.
This account was part of a network of over 1,000 similar accounts, where young people could share posts on depression, self-harm, and the desire to kill themselves. The average age of girls in this network are 19. There is an unspoken rule throughout these private accounts: don’t snitch. The network offers friendship and support which draws troubled teens to it, but also encourages them to post extreme self-harming images. The darker the post, the more likes and comments it receives. BBC reporter Catrin Nye spoke to one of the girls in the network, “she feels although the Instagram community could be very supportive, she also experienced people saying things like ‘your cut isn’t big enough.’ She says there was a sense of competition as to who was the sickest,” said Nye.
Suicide 30 to 50 Times Higher After ED Visit for Self-Harm, Suicidal Ideation
Findings seen among patients presenting with self-harm and suicidal ideation in California.
Emergency department patients presenting with deliberate self-harm or suicidal ideation are at substantially increased risk for suicide in the year following discharge, according to a study published online Dec. 13 in JAMA Network Open.
Sidra Goldman-Mellor, Ph.D., from the University of California in Merced, and colleagues examined the one-year incidence of suicide and other mortality among emergency department patients (2009 through 2011) who presented with nonfatal deliberate self-harm, suicidal ideation, or any other chief concern. Sociodemographic and clinical factors associated with suicide mortality risk were examined.
Massachusetts Case Probes The Role Schools Play In Teen Suicide Prevention
Christina worried when she found her 16-year-old boyfriend, Jacob Goyette, drunk and crying at school in the spring of 2018.
A sophomore at a suburban Massachusetts high school, Christina already knew too many people who had died by suicide. Her mind immediately went to the worst-case scenario.
So Christina says she left Jacob with a friend and headed to the social worker for help. Christina told her she was worried about Jacob’s mental health and says she was promised that word would get to his family.
But Christina says that’s not what happened. Less than two months later, she received the worst news possible: Jacob killed himself in his backyard treehouse.
“They didn’t do anything,” said Christina, who is using her middle name by request of her family to protect her privacy.
Now Jacob’s mother, Shannon Goyette, says she’s planning to sue the school district for failing to protect her son from harm. Goyette’s attorney, Jeffrey Beeler, sent a letter to the school district in September saying it is “inexcusable” that school officials didn’t notify her about Christina’s concerns.
FCC unanimously approves proposal for new 3-digit number as Suicide Prevention Hotline
The Federal Communications Commission is moving ahead with plans to designate a three-digit number to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 988.
The five-member commission unanimously voted on Thursday to approve the proposal, which is now open for public comment, and start the rulemaking process.
“988 has an echo of the 911 number we all know as an emergency number. And we believe that this three-digit number dedicated for this purpose will help ease access to crisis services, it will reduce the stigma surrounding suicide and mental health conditions, and ultimately it will save lives,” Chairman Ajit Pai said Thursday during the commission’s open December meeting.
The proposal requires carriers to implement 988 as a national suicide prevention hotline within an 18-month timeframe. The FCC is asking for input on “all aspects of implementation,” including whether less or more time is needed.
Using Artificial Intelligence to Strengthen Suicide Prevention
An artificial intelligence tool can identify individuals capable of being trained to help mitigate the risk of suicide.
A team from the University of Southern California (USC) has designed an artificial intelligence algorithm capable of identifying individuals in real-life social groups who could be trained to recognize the warning signs of suicide.
Researchers noted that according to the CDC, the suicide rate for people between the ages of 10 and 24 increased by 56 percent between 2007 and 2017. In comparison to the general population, more than half of individuals who experience homelessness have had thoughts of suicide or have attempted suicide.
The group aimed to examine the potential for social connections such as friends, relatives, and acquaintances to help mitigate the risk of suicide.
How to See Suicidal Signs Before It’s Too Late
Suicide is the second leading cause of death for people between the ages of 10 and 34. That’s according to the American Psychological Association, which says suicide has increased by 33 percent between 1999 and 2017.
So what are the signs that someone you love, like your child, might be thinking about suicide?
“Change,” said Contact Community Services Crisis Intervention Services Director Cheryl Giarrusso. “Please notice change, because that’s a real indicator that there is something going on. And it could be very subtle change, but if you know your child, or your loved one, or your friend and family member, and you notice a change, ask ‘what’s going on? You seem different and I’m wondering if there is something you’re worried about, concerned about, need to talk about.’ “
It’s hard to identify what’s caused a spike in suicide rates; the APA identifies several contributing factors to suicide like depression, serious mental illness, conditions including pain, stressful life events, or a history of previous attempts or abuse. But Contact Community Services officials say simply asking and being persistent if someone doesn’t speak right away can make a difference.
Hidden Risk Factors in Youth Suicide
Research targets risk factors and interventions for kids at risk for suicide–Anxiety, Poor Sleep, Violence.
With rates of suicide attempts and suicide completions drastically rising for children and adolescents, we need to better understand and recognize hidden risk factors that increase suicidal thoughts and behaviors in youth and to develop new interventions.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that suicide is now the second leading cause of death for those between ages 10 to 17. Ten years ago, suicide was the fourth leading cause of death for this age group.
Concussion May Up Risk for Suicide in High School Students
High school students with a history of sports-related concussions might be at an increased risk for suicide, according to a study published online Nov. 11 in the Journal of Affective Disorders.
Dale S. Mantey, Ph.D., from the University of Texas School of Public Health in Austin, and colleagues used data from the 2017 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey (13,353 participants) to assess the relationship between self-reported history of sports-related concussion and five risk factors for suicide completion.
The researchers found that overall, 15.0 percent of high school students reported a sports-related concussion in the previous 12 months. Of students who reported a history of concussion, approximately 36 percent reported they had felt sad or hopeless (compared with 31.1 percent of all adolescents) and about 21 percent reported they had thoughts of suicide (compared with 17 percent of all adolescents).
The investigators observed a significant association between self-reported sports-related concussion and greater odds of feeling sad/hopeless (adjusted odds ratio, 1.20), suicidal ideation (adjusted odds ratio, 1.25), suicide attempt (adjusted odds ratio, 1.60), and suicide attempt treated by a doctor/nurse (adjusted odds ratio, 2.35).
Yale Review: How Brain Alterations Contribute to Suicidal Thoughts and Behaviors
How brain alterations contribute to suicidal thoughts and behaviors is the subject of a new published review of brain scanning studies by Yale and international researchers.
Published in Molecular Psychiatry, the review spanned more than two decades of neuroimaging studies and summarized progress made in understanding how alterations in the brain contribute to suicide, now the 10th leading cause of death worldwide.
“The review shows the important advancements that have been made in elucidating the brain circuitry that contributes to suicide risk so the field can provide more targeted and effective suicide prevention strategies,” said Hilary Blumberg, MD, John and Hope Furth Professor of Psychiatric Neuroscience, and Professor of Psychiatry, in the Child Study Center and of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging at Yale. “But there is a great deal more research to do.”
The Crisis in Youth Suicide
Too often, suicide attempts and deaths by suicide, especially among the young, become family secrets that are not investigated and dealt with in ways that might protect others from a similar fate.
The death of a child is most parents’ worst nightmare, one made even worse when it is self-inflicted. This very tragedy has become increasingly common among young people in recent years. And adults — parents, teachers, clinicians and politicians — should be asking why and what they can do to prevent it.
In October, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that after a stable period from 2000 to 2007, the rate of suicide among those aged 10 to 24 increased dramatically — by 56 percent — between 2007 and 2017, making suicide the second leading cause of death in this age group, following accidents like car crashes.
“We’re in the middle of a full-blown mental health crisis for adolescents and young adults,” said Jean M. Twenge, research psychologist at San Diego State University and author of the book “iGen,” about mental health trends among those born since 1995. “The evidence is strong and consistent both for symptoms and behavior.”
Teens and antidepressants: What parents need to know about suicide warnings
Oakwood father questions the role of antidepressants in his son’s suicide death.
An Oakwood father whose teen son died by suicide wants parents to research and ask questions about antidepressants prescribed to their children.
Those drugs come with a warning: “May cause increased thoughts of suicide in children, teens and young adults.”
The so-called “black box” warning is the most serious the Food and Drug Administration can assign to a drug. But it has caused controversy.
Some parents believe they’ve been under-informed about the risks. Doctors, though, fear over-emphasis of the warning scares off patients whose lives could be saved and improved by these drugs.
The Dayton Daily News’ Path Forward project digs into the most pressing issues facing the Miami Valley, including rising concerns about youth mental health. Teen suicide rates in Ohio are at the highest they’ve been since at least 2000.