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.

February 2020

Study: LGBTQ+ Youth are Four Times More Likely to Attempt Suicide

Experts point to a worsening political and social climate as contributing factors.

Over the past decade in the United States, there have been significant increases in deaths caused by suicide — particularly among teens and young adults, according to a report released by The Trevor Project last week. The report revealed new findings from the suicide prevention organization’s own research as well as recently released data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Once again, the most startling findings showed that LGBTQ+ youth were more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.

Though previous research had already shown considerably higher rates of suicidality among queer and trans young people, the latest data from the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBS) revealed that LGB youth are more than four times as likely to attempt suicide compared to straight peers. This is a significant jump from the often-cited statistic stating that suicide attempts are three times as likely among queer youth. The report also stated other CDC research showed similar numbers in regards to transgender young people.

Out, Feb. 11, 2020

Adolescents and suicide prevention

Talking to your child about suicide may be one of the most difficult and uncomfortable conversations you’ll have, but it may also be the most important. Do not be afraid of the word “suicide.” And according to research, talking to kids about suicide does not cause or increase suicide. Please read that again. By talking about suicide prevention, kids will know parents are open to discussing serious topics and parents will provide support when needed.

Why discuss mental health matters with kids? Suicide is the second leading cause of death in the Unites States for kids ages 10-19. And 1 out of every 6 high school students has considered suicide in the past year. Depression and suicide affect people of every race, religious background, and income level. Kids need to know the warning signs of depression and suicide and how to get help. Most kids who attempt suicide have shown signs of depression.

The Public Defender, Feb. 12, 2020

Number of non-heterosexual teens grows, but suicide attempts remain high

A new study found the number of high schoolers who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or unsure of their sexual identity doubled. Attempted suicide rates among them was nearly four times as high as their heterosexual peers.

The number of high school students who considered themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or unsure of their sexual identity doubled from 2009 to 2017, but large disparities remain between the rate of attempted suicide among those teens and the rate of attempted suicide for their straight peers, according to a study. 

A study from Boston University School of Public Health published in the journal Pediatrics Monday evaluated high school students in six states who identified as either gay, lesbian, bisexual or unsure in youth surveys. 

The study found those who did not identify as strictly heterosexual rose from 7.3 percent to 14.3 percent between 2009 and 2017. Researchers also found the share of adolescents who reported any same-sex sexual contact rose from 7.7 percent in 2009 to 13.1 percent in 2017.

The Hill, Feb. 10, 2020

More Evidence Links Social Media Use to Poorer Mental Health in Teens

Smartphones, and being on Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok and the like may be taking a big toll on teens’ mental health, a new survey of collected data on the subject shows.

Canadian researchers pored over dozens of studies and said the negative effects of social media on teens’ well-being is on the rise.

“Physicians, teachers and families need to work together with youth to decrease possible harmful effects of smartphones and social media on their relationships, sense of self, sleep, academic performance, and emotional well-being,” said study lead author Dr. Elia Abi-Jaoude. He’s a staff psychiatrist at The Hospital for Sick Children and Toronto Western Hospital, both in Toronto.

U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 10, 2020

Self-Care for Teens: a Boon for Mental Health

Adolescents who eat well, get enough sleep and stay physically active reap the benefits.

Teens are getting too little sleep, not enough exercise and spending far too much time online. Research tells us so (if you need proof), and it’s also clear that when teens don’t take care of themselves, it can affect their mental health.

That’s all the more reason parents should teach their kids about the fundamentals of good self-care. And that means getting back to the basics, such as eating well, getting plenty of sleep and exercising more. That may be easier said than done, as adults know. But if you want your teen to live a healthier life, it’s important to pay attention to these three pillars of health.

U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 10, 2020

Study: Family Factors Are Tied to Suicide Thoughts and Attempts in Children

Many parents of 9- and 10-year-olds are unaware of their child’s struggles, new research also indicates.

A vast majority of parents and caregivers don’t know about their children’s suicidal thoughts or actions, a new study suggests, even as family dynamics are linked to the dangerous behaviors.

For the study, published online Friday in JAMA Network Open, researchers examined survey data on roughly 11,800 children as well as one of their caregivers to assess the prevalence of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts and non-suicidal self-injury among 9- and 10-year-olds. They also explored whether factors such as financial adversity, parental monitoring and family conflict were associated with suicidality and self-harm in children.

From the children’s responses, the researchers approximated that 6.4% had a history of passive suicide ideation, or wishing to be dead, while 4.4% at some point had wanted to take their own life without a method, intent or plan in mind. Another 2.4% had at least expressed an intent to act on suicidal thoughts, formulated a plan or considered a method, while 1.3% had actually attempted suicide and 9.1% intentionally inflicted injury to their body without suicidal intent.

U.S. News & World Report, Feb. 7, 2020

Neurological disorder diagnosis may increase suicide risk

Individuals diagnosed with a neurological disorder have a significantly higher rate of suicide compared with those without this diagnosis, according to results of a nationwide, retrospective cohort study conducted in Denmark and published in JAMA.

“Population-based studies have associated head injury, stroke, epilepsy and multiple sclerosis with suicide,” Annette Erlangsen, PhD, of the Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention, and colleagues wrote. “Findings related to less prevalent neurological disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Huntington disease and Parkinson disease, were inconclusive due to small sample sizes, selection bias and suboptimal comparison groups while not being adjusted for relevant confounders, such as physical and mental comorbidity.”

Healio Psychiatry, Feb. 6, 2020

TikTok Livestreamed a User’s Suicide — Then Got Its PR Strategy in Place Before Calling the Police

TikTok acted rapidly – not to alert the authorities or the young man’s family, but to avoid tarnishing the company’s image.

João filmed the last livestream of his life on a summer afternoon a year ago. He was 19 and living in Curitiba, the capital of the state of Paraná in southern Brazil. The day before, João issued an ominous warning to his fans that he had been planning a special performance.

Their eyes glued to the screens of their cellphones, some 280 people watched the young vlogger kill himself live on TikTok, last year’s fourth-most downloaded app in the world. It was 3:23 p.m. on February 21, 2019. The video, with 497 comments and 15 complaints, remained live for more than an hour and a half, simply showing João’s body. (The Intercept is using a pseudonym for João to protect his family’s privacy.)

Officials at TikTok, which has seen a meteoric rise among a sea of phone apps, only became aware of the suicide at 5 p.m. The company immediately began putting a public relations strategy in place to ensure that what had occurred never made headlines.

The Intercept, Feb. 6, 2020

School tip lines were meant to stop shootings, but uncovered a teen suicide crisis

Police say the anonymous reporting systems have helped them save the lives of suicidal teens.

Two police officers in Hermiston, Oregon, banged on the front door of a family’s home on a Sunday evening in November 2017. When the father answered the door, confused about why the cops were there, the officers quickly brushed past him, telling him they’d received a report that his teenage son was about to kill himself.

One of the son’s classmates had submitted a report to SafeOregon, a school safety tip line run by the state police, warning that the teenager was suicidal and that he had shared a picture of himself with a belt around his neck. SafeOregon sent two officers to check on him.

“The dad had no idea about any of this,” said Hermiston Police Chief Jason Edmiston, one of several law enforcement and school officials who described the incident to NBC News. “He was out in the living room and had no idea what was going on.”

NBC News, Feb. 1, 2020

6 Ways Parents Can Help Prevent Teen Suicide

It’s news no parent wants to think about: Teen suicide is on the rise.

The adolescent suicide rate has reached its highest point since 2000, increasing more than 50 percent between 2007 and 2017 in the United States. The increase in the suicide rate has been especially pronounced among teenage boys ages 15 to 19.

The statistics are scary, but parents can help their children navigate these difficult years, says UNC psychologist Samantha Pflum, PhD, who specializes in treating children and adolescents.

“One of the most important things is knowing that many youth, regardless of what their life circumstances are, are at risk,” she says.

She suggests six things parents can do to help prevent teen suicide.

UNC Health Talk, Feb. 3, 2020

Rural schools hit hard by teen suicides

Suicide is now the second leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds in Michigan, and the rates are nearly double in rural communities, according to state and federal surveys.

That’s above the national average and has risen in recent years.

The surveys were done by the state Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

One in six children in the United States between 6 and 17 years old has a treatable mental health disorder like depression or anxiety, according to the National Survey of Children’s Health.

Treatment is slowly becoming more readily available, but can be hard to obtain in rural areas, according to Corbin Standley, a psychology Ph.D. student at Michigan State University. He chairs the Michigan chapter of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“A large portion of the state is very rural, and research shows that more rural counties have higher suicide rates,” Standley said. “This is due in part to less access to mental health services and mental health care.”

Ionia Sentinel-Standard, Feb. 2, 2020

The Question When A Loved One Dies By Suicide – Why?

For every suicide there is an estimated six or more “suicide survivors,” people who are left behind trying to cope with this traumatic loss. They include spouses, parents, siblings, friends and relatives.

The Question is – WHY?

One of the haunting thoughts that survivors carry in the aftermath of suicide is “ WHY DID THIS HAPPEN?”

As Bev Feigelman, one of the authors of Devastating Losses, and the mother of a young filmmaker who died by suicide describes, “ The question mark stays in the forefront of your mind haunting you and only with time starts to slowly move toward the back.”

Depression, often unrecognized and untreated is considered the major cause of suicide. What complicates this finding is that those suffering often struggle with the fear that they will not find the proper treatment.

In her important book, Depression and Your Child, one of the contributions of author Deborah Serani, is a listing of over 300 names of famous people from athletes, actors to writers who have suffered with depression.

PsychCentral, Feb. 2, 2020

January 2020

Number of Americans Headed to ER for Suicidal Thoughts, Self-Harm Keeps Rising

Men and women are flooding America’s emergency rooms because of suicidal thoughts and injuries caused by harming themselves, federal health officials reported Thursday.

In fact, these types of emergency room visits shot up 25.5% from 2017 to 2018, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

April Foreman, an executive committee member of the board of directors at the American Association of Suicidology and a suicide prevention coordinator at the VA Health System in Baton Rouge, La., wasn’t surprised by the news.

“Nobody who’s trying to figure out mental health care is going to tell you that we’re being underutilized,” she said. “There are huge wait times and it’s really hard to get care.

MedicineNet, Jan. 30, 2020

More and more Americans are dying by suicide. What are we missing?

America’s suicide rate won’t stop rising. 

Numbers released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 48,344 people died by suicide in 2018, up from 47,173 the year before. While the increase was small, just two-tenths of a percent, the rise in deaths over time has been steady. Since 1999, the suicide rate has climbed 35%. 

Death rates in 2018 increased for only two of the 10 leading causes of death: suicide and influenza/pneumonia.

“I was 100% unsurprised,” said April Foreman, a clinician and board member at the American Association of Suicidology, noting systems of science and care have remained static. “That’s not acceptable. We need to start treating these deaths seriously and respecting these survivors by upping our game in public health.”

USA Today, Jan. 30, 2020

Report: U.S. Suicide Rate Highest Among Wealthy Nations

The United States spends substantially more than any other wealthy nation on health care, yet it has a lower life expectancy and a higher suicide rate than its peer nations, according to a new Commonwealth Fund report.

The report, U.S. Health Care from a Global Perspective, 2019: Higher Spending, Worse Outcomes, compares the United States to 10 other high-income nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD): Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom. Commonwealth Fund researchers examined U.S. health care spending, outcomes, risk factors, and quality relative to these other countries. They also compared U.S. performance to the average of all 36 OECD member nations.

Among the key findings:

The U.S. has the highest suicide rate of any wealthy nation. Suicides account for 14 deaths per 100,000 people in the U.S. This is double the suicide rate of the United Kingdom. Potential factors that contribute to the high U.S. suicide rate include a high burden of mental illness, a lack of mental health screening, inadequate investment in social services, and the inability of many people to pay for mental health treatment. In recent years, Americans have experienced an uptick in “deaths of despair,” which include suicides and deaths related to substance use and drug overdoses., Jan. 30, 2020

We Lost Our Son to Suicide. Here’s How We Survived.

I tried many of the supports available to help parents heal, like therapy, support groups, exercise and finding a way to honor our son’s memory.

On Sept. 7, 2017, my 31st wedding anniversary, a date marked by happy memories turned tragic. That was when I learned that my 23-year-old son, Garrett, had died by suicide. Two and a half years later, the news that brought me to my knees rings in my memory as if it were delivered just yesterday.

Garrett was popular, talented and loved by his many friends and family members. Yet he felt alone in his struggles. Despite our fervent efforts to get him help, he slipped through our grasp. My husband and I had to come to terms with the most brutal outcome for a parent: We could not save him.

Our son is part of an epidemic of youth suicide. He was one of 6,252 Americans ages 15 to 24 who officially died by suicide in 2017, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Any loss of a child is devastating. But a suicide death takes a particularly severe toll on the survivors. Research shows that people who are grieving a suicide are 80 percent more likely to drop out of school or quit their jobs — and 64 percent more likely to attempt suicide themselves — than those who are grieving sudden losses by natural causes.

The New York Times, Jan. 30, 2020

More and more Americans are dying by suicide. What are we missing?

America’s suicide rate won’t stop rising. 

Numbers released Thursday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 48,344 people died by suicide in 2018, up from 47,173 the year before. While the increase was small, just two-tenths of a percent, the rise in deaths over time has been steady. Since 1999, the suicide rate has climbed 35%.
Death rates in 2018 increased for only two of the 10 leading causes of death: suicide and influenza/pneumonia.

“I was 100% unsurprised,” said April Foreman, a clinician and board member at the American Association of Suicidology, noting systems of science and care have remained static. “That’s not acceptable. We need to start treating these deaths seriously and respecting these survivors by upping our game in public health.”

Suicide is the nation’s 10th-leading cause of death, with 14.2 deaths per 100,000 people, though that rate alone belies the scope of the problem. While thousands of people die by suicide each year, millions think about it.

USA Today, Jan. 30, 2020

Poverty Could Drive Up Youth Suicide Risk

New research shows that children and teens in U.S. areas with greater levels of poverty face a higher risk of suicide.

“Our findings suggest that community poverty is a serious risk factor for youth suicide, which should help target prevention efforts,” said lead study author Dr. Jennifer Hoffmann. She is a pediatric emergency medicine physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

For the study, Hoffmann and her colleagues analyzed federal government data on suicides in children and teens aged 5 to 19 that occurred from 2007 to 2016.

They identified nearly 21,000 suicides in this age group, which works out to an annual suicide rate of 3.4/100,000 children. The majority of these suicides (85%) were among teens aged 15 to 19. Males accounted for 76% of the suicides, and whites for 69%.

WedMD, Jan. 27, 2020

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.

The Associated Press, New York Times, Jan. 16, 2020

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.

Trumbull Times, Jan. 17, 2020

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.

Craig Press, Jan. 15, 2020

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

CBS 12 News, Jan. 10, 2020

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 Epoch Times, Jan. 9, 2020

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.

Medical Xpress, Jan. 6, 2020

‘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. 

Knox News, Jan. 7, 2020

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.

The New York Times, Jan. 6, 2020

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.

AMA, January 3, 2020

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.

The New York Times, Jan. 2, 2020

December 2019

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.

The Verge, Dec. 30, 2019

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.

The Guardian, Dec. 18, 2019

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.

Psych Central, Dec. 21, 2019

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.

Addiction Center, Dec. 19, 2020

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.

Physician’s Weekly, Dec 17, 2019

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.

NPR, Dec. 15, 2019

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.

CNN, Dec. 12, 2019

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.

Health IT Analytics, Dec. 12, 2019

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. 

Spectrum News, Dec. 11, 2019

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.

Psychology Today, Dec. 3, 2019

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)., Dec. 3, 2019

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.”

Yale School of Medicine, Dec. 2, 2019

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.”

The New York Times, Dec. 2, 2019

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.

Dayton Daily News, Dec. 1, 2019