News

newspaper_and_keyboardOn 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.

 

 


July 2018


Youth Suicide Prevention Video for Parents

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for youth ages 15-17 and 3rd leading cause of death for youth ages 10-14. One of the most stressful challenges that parents often face is realizing that they will not always know when something is wrong with their child.

In response, several Georgia organizations have come together to produce a public service announcement (PSA) aimed at adults. The adults featured in this PSA share their stories and journey with their children who have considered or attempted suicide. These are parents, siblings, and experts who have seen this crisis firsthand and want to raise awareness for others to continuously seek help for children in crisis.

Georgia Child Fatality Review, July 17 2018


Teen suicide risk may be lower with intense team-based therapy

Adolescents who have harmed themselves or tried to commit suicide may be less likely to do it again when they participate in an intense therapy program focused on both individual and family treatment, a U.S. study suggests.

The research focused on what’s known as dialectical behavior therapy. This involves a combination of individual sessions for teens and their parents as well as family counseling. The goals include helping teens eliminate behavior that leads to self-harm, suicide, or reduced quality of life; teaching skills like mindfulness and emotion regulation; and helping teens and families change behaviors.

Reuters Health News, July 17, 2018


Predicting Suicide Attempts and Suicide Deaths Using Electronic Health Records: New model substantially outperforms existing suicide risk tools

Suicide accounted for nearly 45,000 deaths in the United States in 2016. Unfortunately, tools currently used to predict an individual’s risk of a suicide attempt or dying by suicide, such as brief self-report measures, have only moderate accuracy.

Now, researchers have developed a new prediction model that substantially outperforms existing self-report tools. The study, supported by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), was published online on May 24, 2018, in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

National Institute of Mental Health, July 12, 2018


A Carmel High School student’s suicide raises questions over how schools discipline kids

One year and eight months later, Chris and Marilyn McCalley are still haunted by the final hours of their 17-year-old son’s life.

They know that Patrick, then a junior at Carmel High School, left for school Oct. 6, 2016, excited about an email from the Air Force, an option he was considering after graduation.

They know sometime around noon he was called to the assistant principal’s office and told he’d be suspended over a “racially insensitive” Snapchat he sent a few friends that trivialized lynching. He signed an affidavit the school gave him, apologizing and calling it a “stupid and ignorant joke.”

They know that before 3:36 p.m., about half an hour after being escorted out of the building, Patrick decided to kill himself. He was declared dead by suicide in the hospital at 5:07 p.m. that day.

But there’s a lot they will likely never know. What prompted Patrick to take his own life? His family said he was a happy teen who avoided trouble and excelled at school.

And there is another unanswerable question on their minds: Was there something — anything — the school could have or should have done differently that might have altered what happened that day and prevent it from ever happening again?

Weeks after what would have been Patrick’s graduation day, the McCalleys are sharing their story to start a conversation about how schools can better balance mental health and discipline.

IndyStar, July 11, 2018


A Simple Emergency Room Intervention Can Help Cut Suicide Risk

Many people who attempt suicide end up in an emergency room for immediate treatment. But few of those suicide survivors get the follow-up care they need at a time when they are especially likely to attempt suicide again.

Now, a study shows that a simple intervention conducted by staff in emergency departments can reduce the risk of future attempts. The intervention involves creating a safety plan for each patient and following up with phone calls after discharge.

“It reduced the odds of suicidal behavior by half,” says Barbara Stanley, a psychologist at Columbia University and the lead author of the study. “That’s a phenomenal difference.”

The study, which was published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry, included 1,200 patients at five Veterans Affairs hospitals around the country. The findings offer a way for hospitals and clinics to help reduce the rising numbers of death by suicide across the country.

NPR, July 11, 2018


Teen Suicide: How to understand and reduce risk

The recent suicides of public figures like Kate Spade, as well as growing awareness of non-suicidal self-injury, have triggered conversations about how much more we need to learn about who is at risk, and how we can help prevent and treat self-harm and suicidality.

Parents of teens in particular may be thoughtful and concerned.  Understanding risk factors and warning signs is among the most important things parents can do to support their teens.

In addition to knowing that mental illness, high levels of stressful life events, and a prior history of suicide attempts put individuals at risk, other psychological risk factors that we sometimes write off as “normal teen stuff” can also be warning signs.

While the storm and stress of adolescence can be expected, pay close attention to whether your teen is showing changes—more intense and frequent bouts—of irritability, sadness and depression, a strong sense of failure, major conflict with family or peers, or the major loss of loved one or experience of humiliation or shame. Researchers and clinicians are also learning more about the role of these risk factors.

Psychology Today, July 10, 2018


Language Is Key to Easing the Stigma of Mental Illness: Public Figures Must Do Better in Their Choice of Words

It’s difficult to overstate the persistence or harm of the stigma of mental health issues for the 1 in 5 Americans who suffer from them and their families who care for them. In spite of the dedicated, long-standing work of individual activists and charitable organizations seeking to demystify and normalize mental illness and treatment, many individuals still choose to suffer alone and in silence rather than risk the shame and humiliation of being labeled mentally ill, “crazy,” or worse.

It’s hard to blame them when influential figures use powerful platforms to equate mental health conditions with such negative attributes as weakness, naiveté, and even stupidity. Just recently, Rudy Giuliani told attendees at a political rally that those doing their job of investigating President Trump are “Wackadoodles.”

He further stated, with exaggerated wide eyes and hands waving around his head, that such individuals “need a psychiatrist” and “should go to Bellevue,” a hospital in New York City with a well-known psychiatric unit.

Such comments should not be taken lightly, excused, or brushed under the rug.

Psychology Today, July 9, 2018


Preventing Suicide Among College Students

Privacy rules that keep colleges from notifying parents of a student’s distress may be costing lives. Some solutions include granting permission in advance or having a friend alert the family.

This column is a plea to all current and future college students and their families to deal openly and constructively with emotional, social and academic turmoil that can sometimes have heartbreaking — and usually preventable — consequences.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death, after traffic accidents, among college students. For most, it’s their first time living away from home, away from the support and comfort usually provided by good friends and family members. The adjustment can be overwhelming for some students, especially those who don’t make friends easily or who have difficulty meeting the demands of challenging college courses.

Sadly, parents are often unaware of the struggles facing their college-age children, and a federal privacy law often prevents colleges from notifying parents of serious student difficulties even when faculty members and administrators know about them.

Consider the recent suicide of a Hamilton College student whose parents were unaware of his severe distress even though several professors and the dean knew he was going through “a complete crash and burn,” as one put it.

The New York Times, July 2, 2018

 

 


June, 2018


Therapy Reduces Risk in Suicidal Youth: Clinical trial shows dialectical behavior therapy effectiveness

Preventing suicide has proven to be a difficult public health challenge. The suicide rate has climbed in recent years across age groups. In adolescents, suicide is the second leading cause of death. For every young person who dies by suicide, many more have suicidal thoughts, attempt suicide, or deliberately injure themselves without intending suicide.

To date, there have not been any research-validated treatments for preventing suicide among youth. And research has found that it’s hard to get adolescents with suicidal thoughts to start and stay with existing treatments.

Researchers at the University of Washington, Seattle Children’s Research Institute, and collaborators at the Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute at Harbor- University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Medical Center, and the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA are addressing the treatment void for adolescents.

A recent clinical trial of a psychotherapy called dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)—which has been shown to be effective in reducing suicide-related behavior in adults—showed that DBT can also reduce suicide attempts and suicidal behavior in adolescents.

National Institute of Mental Health, June 27, 2018


The fading American dream may be behind rise in US suicides

Shrinking life chances plus lack of a social safety net may have left middle-aged Americans more vulnerable to suicide than peers in other rich nations.

Sobering statistics published earlier this month show that the annual rate of suicide in the US has risen by almost 28 per cent between 1999 and 2016.

A number of explanations have been put forward, including the 2008 economic crash, the upsurge in addiction to opioid painkillers and the migration of manufacturing jobs to other countries. But none alone explains why the suicide rate is rising so fast in the US as it falls in other rich countries.

New Scientist, June 27, 2018


College students are forming mental-health clubs — and they’re making a difference

Mental-health problems among college students have been climbing since the 1990s, according to the American Psychological Association. And with services increasingly stretched at campus health centers, students have been taking action themselves through peer-run mental-health clubs and organizations. The approach appears to be paying off, a new study finds.

In what they describe as the largest study of its kind, researchers found that across 12 California colleges, such student-run efforts were associated with increased awareness of mental-health issues, reduced stigma and a rise in “helping behaviors.”

“Student-organized activities can improve college student mental-health attitudes and play an important role in improving the campus climate with respect to mental health,” said Bradley Stein, a senior physician policy researcher at the Rand Corp. and one of the paper’s lead authors.

The Washington Post, June 27, 2018


“Finding Hope: Battling America’s Suicide Crisis,” is a CNN Special Report hosted by Anderson Cooper. If you or someone you know needs help, call the national suicide hotline: 1-800-273-TALK.

 


Clicks Over Ethics: Careless Coverage of Suicide

The recent deaths of fashion designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain have forced the media into a necessary, albeit painful, discussion of suicide and mental illness.

According to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates have been rising in nearly every state over the past two decades. It is now the tenth leading cause of death, making it a critical US public health issue.

How the media portray suicide directly affects how our culture handles it, and the stakes for irresponsible reporting are high. As the CDC states, the phenomenon of copycat suicides, or suicide cluster or contagion, can result from simplistic, sensational and glamorized coverage.

One notorious example, cited by the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, occurred in 1962, when the month following the death of Marilyn Monroe and the ensuing media circus saw a 12 percent rise in suicides. (“The blond, 36-year-old actress was nude, lying face down on her bed and clutching a telephone receiver in her hand when a psychiatrist broke into her room at 3:30 a.m.,” was how the LA Times—8/5/62—broke the news.)

Fairness and Accuracy in Media, June 22, 2018


Suicide Prevention Signs Posted at MBTA Stations

Commuters will soon be seeing signs posted at various Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority stations encouraging people to call for help if they may be contemplating suicide.

The signs come from the MBTA’s new partnership with Samaritans Inc., a suicide prevention organization based in Boston.

“If you or someone you know needs someone to listen, Samaritans is there,” the sign says. “Call or text 24/7 1-877-870-HOPE (4673).”

With the high-profile deaths of designer Kate Spade and chef Anthony Bourdain, Steve Mongeau says Samaritan Inc. has seen a spike in calls. He says signage like this and just speaking to someone could help someone going through a tough time.

NBC News 10 Boston, June 21, 2018


Talking to Children about Suicide: Creating safe environment is key to opening a discussion

The recent high profile deaths by suicide make it inevitable that children will ask questions and express a curiosity about the topic. However, some parents might feel a sense of uneasiness about answering those questions. Local mental health educators say that the steady increase in death by suicide each year since 1999 makes those conversations vital.

Parents can begin by creating a safe environment for an age-appropriate dialogue, says Linda Gulyn, Ph.D, professor of psychology at Marymount University. “As always, reassure young children that you are there for them no matter what,” she said. “Don’t feed into the anxiety. Teens understand it 100 percent, probably more than you realize.”

The Connection, June 19, 2018


What Educators Need to Know About Suicide: Contagion, Complicated Grief, and Supportive Conversations

When suicide is in the news, in popular culture, or directly affecting a student who is grieving a lost loved one, it can be difficult for teachers to know what to say or whether to talk about it at all. But open conversations and offers of help can be a crucial lifeline for students, suicide prevention experts say.

As suicide rates have continued a multi-year trend of gradually increasing, the prevention community has expanded its focus beyond mental health providers and counselors by seeking to embed resources and knowledge among other members of the community, including educators, said Doreen Marshall, vice president of programs at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

“In schools, there’s been more emphasis over the past four to five years over training other gatekeepers, like teachers,” Marshall said. “What we’re starting to see is a shift to suicide prevention being more of a shared responsibility among the community, where there’s a sense that we look out for each other.”

Education Week, June 15, 2018


Is Suicide Preventable? Rates of suicide have continued to rise in alarming ways.

A cherished young friend and colleague took his life almost two weeks ago, the same week the world lost Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. About 120 lives are lost to suicide in the United States every day, sometimes involving brilliant accomplished people like these who had abundant empathy for others but couldn’t find a way forward for themselves.

My dear friend’s family and friends and I tried our best to console ourselves that there was nothing more we could have done. I suspect most of us, like others who have lost loved ones to suicide, wondered silently if this was accurate. Surely there were countless things we could have done or done differently. We just don’t know which one of those things might have made a difference. The question lingers unanswered for me, a practicing psychiatrist, as it does for everyone else.

U.S. News and World Report, June 19, 2018


Phone apps are helping scientists track suicidal thoughts in real time: Studies aim to find out if such close monitoring could help prevent suicides

Suicide research is undergoing a timing shift, and not a moment too soon. A new breed of studies that track daily — and even hourly — changes in suicidal thinking is providing intriguing, although still preliminary, insights into how to identify those on the verge of trying to kill themselves.

Monitoring ways in which suicidal thoughts wax and wane over brief time periods, it turns out, can potentially strengthen suicide prevention strategies.

Digital technology has made these investigations possible. Smartphone applications alert people to report on suicidal thoughts as they arise in real-world settings.

Science News, June 18, 2018


Can We Really Prevent Suicide? Yes. 4 ways to reduce suicide and how you can help.

Following the recent high-profile deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, a common question we hear is – “Can suicide be prevented if someone really wants to die?” While the question seems simple, it’s actually quite complex. The first part is easy: Yes, we can reduce suicide if not totally prevent it. The second part is more complicated and requires determining if those who died from suicide really wanted to die.

Psychology Today, June 18, 2018


The Long, Dark History of America’s Suicide Crisis

The game feels rigged for too many Americans, as the gulf widens between a society’s sense of what success looks like and the paths to achieving those goals.

It took the deaths of two revered celebrities in a week to bring suicide to the center of the national conversation, but let’s hope the conversation doesn’t end there.

A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a sharp increase in suicides—25 percent—between 1996 and 2016. They declared it a public health crisis. Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S., and one of the three causes that saw an increase over that decade. In 2016, the last year of the study, 45,000 people committed suicide in the U.S.; with firearms involved in roughly 50 percent of them. There has been an increase for women. Veterans are overrepresented. And there was an increase in western states, which might be related to that region’s painfully slow economic recovery.

The Daily Beast, June 15, 2018


Sex and Drugs Decline Among Teens, but Depression and Suicidal Thoughts Grow

One in seven high school students reported misusing prescription opioids, one of several disturbing results in a nationwide survey of teenagers that revealed a growing sense of fear and despair among youth in the United States.

The numbers of teenagers reporting “feelings of sadness or hopelessness,” suicidal thoughts, and days absent from school out of fear of violence or bullying have all risen since 2007. The increases were particularly pointed among lesbian, gay and bisexual high school students.

Nationally, 1 in 5 students reported being bullied at school; 1 in 10 female students and 1 in 28 male students reported having been physically forced to have sex.

“An adolescent’s world can be bleak,” said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, an official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which conducted the survey and analyzed the data. “But having a high proportion of students report they had persistent feelings of hopelessness and 17 percent considering suicide is deeply disturbing.”

The New York Times, June 14, 2018


Guidelines for reporting about suicide

Following the recent deaths of designer Kate Spade and chef, author and TV host Anthony Bourdain, journalists have faced the task of reporting on suicide, which is not only painful, but challenging, too. Journalists risk contagion, which is an increase in suicides connected to irresponsible media reporting. There is also the risk of overlooking statements and information that would further add stigma and feelings of shame for those surviving the loss and those more susceptible to self-harm.

Sparking a conversation about suicide and mental health can be positive, but it is sometimes hard to strike a balance between providing accurate information and preventing unnecessary damage.

International Journalists’ Network, June 14, 2018


Suicide is born of despair. Suicide prevention is far from hopeless. How to stop people killing themselves.

Suicide is often born of despair, but suicide prevention is far from hopeless. What is required is a better understanding of the suicidal brain, says Dan Reidenberg of SAVE, a non-profit organisation. Research suggests that people cannot remain acutely suicidal for much more than an hour, and that half of those who do commit suicide take the final decision less than ten minutes before killing themselves. Yet what goes on in the brain in those minutes remains a mystery. It is one that is worth trying to solve, since a new report from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a sharp spike in suicide across the country.

The Economist, June 14, 2018


Experts Warn About Suicide Contagion Possibly Triggered By High-Profile Celebrity Suicides

Experts want people to be attentive about suicide contagion in the wake of the deaths of well-known personalities of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade.

People who are already considering suicide may act on their thoughts definitively when they hear about other individuals taking their own lives, particularly if the suicide was committed by a popular personality.

Last week, celebrity chef Bourdain took his own life just three days after fashion designer Spade killed herself.

Mental health professionals are now encouraging families to reach out to members who might have suicidal tendencies.

Tech Times, June 11, 2018


‘They want help’: Crisis hotlines inundated with calls after celebrity suicides

After the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain, crisis hotlines added on-call counselors and reported increases in calls and texts.

At the Bozeman Help Center, a 24-hour hotline and referral center in Montana, Perrin Lundgren had just finished a busy overnight shift fielding calls from people in crisis when she heard the news.

It was 8 a.m. last Friday, just a few days after fashion designer Kate Spade’s suicide, which led to a 30 percent increase in calls to the hotline. Lundgren, a licensed counselor, was driving home when she learned of another suicide: celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.

“I pulled over and sent a message back to the help center saying this is breaking news, they’re not sure it’s suicide-related,” she said, “so the person on shift if they hadn’t heard, did.”

NBC News, June 11, 2018


The risk of ‘contagion’ after suicides is real

American fashion designer Kate Spade was found dead in her Manhattan apartment in an apparent suicide on Tuesday. Then on Friday morning, CNN’s Anthony Bourdain, the chef and storyteller who took viewers around the world in “Parts Unknown,” was found unresponsive in his hotel room in France. The cause of death was suicide.

Mental health experts agree that several high-profile celebrity suicides could possibly cause an increased risk of what’s called suicide contagion, and that all of us should be aware of the risk factors related to suicide.

Suicide contagion is a process in which the suicide of one person or multiple people can contribute to a rise in suicidal behaviors among others, especially those who already have suicidal thoughts or a known risk factor for suicide.

CNN, June 9, 2018


How Suicide Quietly Morphed Into a Public Health Crisis

The deaths of the designer Kate Spade and the chef Anthony Bourdain, both of whom committed suicide this week, were not simply pop culture tragedies. They were the latest markers of an intractable public health crisis that has been unfolding in slow motion for a generation.

Treatment for chronic depression and anxiety — often the precursors to suicide — has never been more available and more widespread. Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week reported a steady, stubborn rise in the national suicide rate, up 25 percent since 1999.

The rates have been climbing each year across most age and ethnic groups. Suicide is now the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Nearly 45,000 Americans killed themselves in 2016, twice the number who died by homicide.

The New York Times, June 8, 2018


5 Takeaways on America’s Increasing Suicide Rate

In a week when two celebrities, first the designer Kate Spade and then the chef and television host Anthony Bourdain, took their own lives, new federal data was released showing that suicide rates have been increasing for years in almost every state and across demographic lines.

The escalating crisis has affected nearly every group and place, but the study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that some parts of the country have been hit especially hard. Here’s a closer look at the study and the stories behind some of the data.

The New York Times, June 9, 2018


Why Are Suicide Rates Rising?

The recent deaths of Anthony Bourdain and Kate Spade have raised the question: Why is suicide becoming more common? And what can be done to reverse the trends?

While researchers have proposed everything from social isolation to bullying as the reason, it’s still a mystery why rates are rising. Experts do, however, recommend approaches that could help reduce the rates.

What’s behind the rise?

A report, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday (June 7), showed that rates of death by suicide in the United States have risen by roughly 25 percent in the last couple decades.

Though the reasons for that increase are not completely clear, in past research, experts have pointed to an increased sense of isolation among Americans, as well economic factors and a rise in mental illness.

Other pointed to the rise of technology, which has replaced important face-to-face interactions (though some argue technology actually decreases loneliness).

Live Science, June 9, 2018


‘It’s Not a Choice:’ Trying to Understand Suicide

Mike Williams was a pastor who was boundlessly compassionate to those who knew him. He loved being outdoors. He was smart enough to teach himself computer programming. “He was an amazing man,” says his daughter, Anna Ruth Williams of Atlanta.

He also killed himself at the age of 55.

In coming to terms with his death, there’s one question Anna Ruth has come to loathe above all others: “Why do you think he did it?” She once walked out on a date who asked her that.

“It’s not a choice. When you live in an orbit of despair, it’s not a choice to you. You have no way out. It’s like your final days of cancer. You have no choice. It is eating your body. You are going to pass, right?

The only choice I think you do have to make is to reach out for help,” she says.

WebMD, June 8, 2018


Best practices for covering suicide responsibly

Suicide made headlines several times this week. How can journalists, celebrities and anyone who might make a post on social media embrace some best practices that will minimize contagion? (Yes, contagion is real.)

I’ve been working with Dan Reidenberg, executive director of SAVE, for years to help journalists cover suicide.

Here are some best practices from Reporting on Suicide.

• Include information about warning signs of suicide.

• Include messaging that suicide is not a natural or logical outcome of adversity. Instead, include a message of hope: Recovery is possible. In fact, most people who think about suicide do recover.

• Avoid stating the means of death. Yes, we are all curious. Responsible news organizations who feel compelled to include some detail will report it low in the story, but avoid putting it in headlines, teasers, captions, or social text.

• Use neutral photos of the individual. And avoid photos that invoke melancholy. Images of a person who appears peaceful, calm and serene send a message that suicide will get you to that peaceful place.

Poynter, June 8, 2018


Warning of pressure on London teenagers as suicide rate soars

Number has risen faster in capital than across rest of England and Wales, figures show.

The rate of teenage suicides in London is increasing faster than across the rest of England and Wales, leading to warnings of a “pressure cooker of conditions” facing young people in the capital.

There were 29 deaths by suicide among 10- to 19-year-olds in 2015-16, compared with 14 in 2013-14 – an increase of 107%. In England and Wales, the number of such deaths rose by 24% from 148 to 184.

Figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to the Brent Centre for Young People in north London under the 2000 Freedom of Information Act show the overall number of suicides registered in London increased by 48% in the three-year period, compared with an overall 3% decrease in England and Wales.

The Guardian, June 8, 2018


 


Centers for Disease Control: Suicide rising across the US

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the US. Suicide rates increased in nearly every state from 1999 through 2016. Mental health conditions are often seen as the cause of suicide, but suicide is rarely caused by any single factor. In fact, many people who die by suicide are not known to have a diagnosed mental health condition at the time of death. 

Other problems often contribute to suicide, such as those related to relationships, substance use, physical health, and job, money, legal, or housing stress. Making sure government, public health, healthcare, employers, education, the media and community organizations are working together is important for preventing suicide. Public health departments can bring together these partners to focus on comprehensive state and community efforts with the greatest likelihood of preventing suicide.

Centers for Disease Control, June 7, 2018


The way we discuss suicide can unintentionally cause harm, but it doesn’t have to

Many people are discussing and grieving fashion designer Kate Spade’s death, apparently by suicide. And in these moments, it becomes essential to discussing suicide as safely as possible.

Whether you knew the person who lost their life personally or as a public figure, whether you’re speaking in private, public, or as a member of the press, the way you discuss suicide can affect those around you. By following a few guidelines outlined by suicide prevention specialists and public health practitioners, you can minimize some risks.

What is suicide contagion?

According to the US Centers for Disease Control, suicide rates among adolescents and young adults have increased sharply in recent decades. Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among young people 10 to 24, and lesbian, gay, and bi-sexual youth are almost five times as likely to have attempted suicide. 

In a national survey by the National Center for Transgender Equality, 40% of transgender adults reported having made a suicide attempt in their lifetime and 92% of these individuals reported having attempted suicide before the age of 25.

Quartz, June 5, 2018


Pediatric research: Education can help reduce youth suicide

If you come from a small town with a local newspaper, you can get pretty good at reading between the lines of the obituary section. When a youth dies by suicide, it doesn’t usually say so. But in communities large or small, the news spreads like spilled ink on a page. First a hush, then a whisper, and finally a clamor of words as the community tries to make sense of it all.

The conversation always comes back to this: Why do children die by suicide? What can physicians, parents and communities do to prevent it?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide rates among young people across the country are on the rise. Each year, one in five teenagers seriously considers suicide. It is the second-leading cause of death for children and young adults ages 10 to 34 in the United States. Suicide even affects children as young as 5.

The Columbus Dispatch, June 3, 2018


10-year-old Akron boy’s suicide prompts questions; family hopes his death will spur help for other troubled youths

When Razy Sellars’ family returned home from his brothers’ baseball game on a recent night, they found Legos and other toys strewn throughout their Akron home.

They saw a potted flower intended for 10-year-old Razy’s teacher sitting on the counter with all of the blooms cut off.

A 14-year-old brother searched for Razy, who had stayed home because he didn’t want to go to the game. What the teen discovered sent him running downstairs, screaming.

Razy was dead, hanging in his brother’s bedroom closet.

Razy’s suicide last week has left the family with many questions.

Why would a boy so young take his own life?

Akron Beacon, June 1, 2018


Deaths By Suicide and Firearms Are Rising Sharply Among Kids

After years of progress, deaths by suicide, homicide and other means of injury are way up among kids, according to new data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics.

The overall death rate for children between ages 10 and 19 fell by 33% between 1999 and 2013. But from 2013 to 2016, the report says, it crept back up by 12% — in large part because of a sizable increase in injury deaths, a category that includes deaths by suicide, homicide and unintentional injuries or accidents.

A total of 9,716 kids died by injury in 2016, a 17% increase over 2013, the report says.

Unintentional injuries, such as those caused by car accidents, accounted for the largest number of child deaths (4,999 in 2016), but saw the smallest increase: After a 49% decline from 1999 to 2013, these types of deaths rose by 13% from 2013 to 2016.

TIME, June 1, 2018


May, 2018


New study links low gun suicide rate with strict gun laws

New York has the third lowest gun suicide rate in the United States, which a gun violence-prevention advocacy group attributes to its tight gun laws.

A study by the Violence Policy Center found that states with relatively lax gun laws – like Montana and West Virginia – have some of the highest suicide rates in the country. Gun-violence experts said the findings show that overall suicide rates could drop if gun laws were tightened.

Times Union, May 31, 2018


There are signs your teens may think about suicide. Here’s how you can get them help.

Sometimes Emily Halasey feels as if she’s in zero gravity with objects flying at her, but she can’t move.

“You just know if you move or if you dodge, there’s another rock that’s just going to hurl at you,” the 18-year-old from Collinsville said, describing her anxiety. Depression is like that, too, except those objects are pushing her down — at least that’s how it feels to Emily.

Belleville News-Democrat, May 31, 2018


Why Are Black Children Killing Themselves? As research continues to show a racial disparity in suicides among kids, experts are grappling with the reasons why.

AN HONOR-ROLL STUDENT and budding athlete, those who knew him described Rylan Hagan as a model sixth-grader and a happy kid with two loving, if occasionally troubled, parents fighting through poverty, past incarceration and homelessness.

Friends and family remembered Stormiyah Denson-Jackson as “a beacon of light,” a typical tween-age girl who loved dancing and was a bit of a shutterbug. Yet her captivating smile, they say, belied the pain she felt from bullying from other kids at her residential charter school.

Rylan, 11, and Stormiyah, 12, lived in different parts of Washington, D.C., and likely didn’t know each other. But their deaths unite them: Rylan committed suicide in November 2017, and Stormiyah reportedly did the same this past January.

Though shockingly young for such tragedy, the two also illustrate alarming statistical trends. More elementary-aged African-American children have been taking their own lives, and black boys and girls between the ages of 5 and 12 are doing so at roughly twice the rate of white kids the same age.

U.S. News and World Report, May 31, 2018


In wake of 11-year-old son’s suicide, Coppell family creates support group

Carson Dyke took his own life, at the tender young age of 11. He didn’t leave a note. He didn’t tell anyone why.

The parents of an 11-year-old boy marked a difficult and somber anniversary last month by promising to help the next family that might soon have to walk their same emotional and painful path.

Carson Dyke’s parents described to us a fun-loving kid who still played with Legos. A goofy, intelligent red-head, the youngest of three brothers.

“And he was so smart. Man, I knew he was going to be my Aggie,” his dad Jason Dyke said. “The two older ones I don’t think are going to A&M. But Carson was going to be my Aggie.”

But on April 28 of last year after a disagreement over chores at their house in Coppell, Carson, a straight-A student, an all-around good kid, seemed overly upset.

“And he came down, and he was just crying and it was really more than anything. It didn’t fit the situation,” his mom April Dyke said.

It didn’t fit at all. And later that night when Jason went to his son’s room to call him to dinner, he found the last horrible scene he could ever have imagined.

WFAA, May 31, 2018


Mapping the rising tide of suicide deaths across the United States

Suicide rates are on the rise across the nation but nowhere more so than in rural counties, according to a new study by a team of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers.

The study maps, in unprecedented detail, county-level changes in suicide rates between 2005 and 2015. The animation above, generated from figures in the report, shows a persistent, nationwide increase in suicide rates at the county level during that period. Rates in rural Western counties start off high and rise even higher. A swath of the country running from Oklahoma through the Appalachians stands out, as well.

Washington Post, May 24, 2018


‘Breaking down the culture of silence’: WA parents who lost daughter to suicide speak out

The Oliver’s eldest daughter Jenni took her own life in February after a long battle with depression. She was 28 years old.

In an interview with WAtoday , the Olivers said losing their daughter had been a living nightmare. But they are determined to keep Jenni’s memory alive.

The couple have already raised more than $7000 in the lead-up to the run, with funds raised to go directly to the RUOK suicide prevention charity. Mr. and Mrs. Oliver recently published a short blog where they set out their views on how the mental health system and our attitudes towards it needed to change. They have given WAtoday  permission to republish portions of that blog.

“If a child had a sprained ankle or a more threatening condition related to cancer, there would be a far greater level of support and opportunity to engage with specialists and obtain necessary support,” the Olivers said.

Western Australia Today, May 24, 2018


The suicide rate for black American children is twice that of white children

White Americans are more likely to commit suicide than black Americans. But a new study finds that the opposite is true for children.

Black children between the ages of 5 to 12 years old are roughly twice as likely to take their own life than their white counterparts, according to the paper, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics. It adds to a 2016 study that found an increase in suicide rates in recent years among black children of elementary-school age.

Quartz, May 22, 2018


Doctors create resources for parents ahead of new ’13 Reasons Why’ season

With the second season of the popular Netflix series “13 Reasons Why” now streaming, mental health professionals want parents to be prepared for how the show — which includes subject matter such as sexual assault, school violence, substance abuse, bullying and suicide — might affect their children.

“The first season of ’13 Reasons Why’ had a pretty significant impact on young people,” Brian P. Kurtz, M.D., a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, told TODAY Parents. “For those of us who see many young people in crisis — coming to the emergency department with suicidal ideation, for example — the fact that the show was on the mind of these patients and their families really jumped out at us. And this was across the country.”

Today, May 17, 2018


NJ mother drives conversation around mental health in wake of son’s suicide

A local mother wants to make sure no other family feels the pain hers has had to endure. Her son committed suicide, but no one realized he was in trouble. So she’s on a mission to drive a much-needed conversation about depression.

Rachelle St. Phard describes her son Coby as “the kid everyone liked.”

“He went out of his way to make other people feel good,” Rachelle said.  “Unfortunately, what we didn’t realize is that some of that outgoingness was him holding something inside.”

Nothing about Rachelle’s stable Mercer County community would ordinarily trigger suspicion of depression at play. And that’s exactly the point.

Fox29, May 17, 2018


Kids’ Suicide-Related Hospital Visits Rise Sharply

From 2008 to 2015, the proportion of emergency room and hospital encounters for suicide-related diagnoses almost tripled. About five years ago, pediatricians at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville found that more and more of their inpatient beds at the children’s hospital were occupied by children and adolescents with mental health issues, especially those who had come in because of suicide attempts, or suicidal thoughts. These patients were known as “boarders”:  They were waiting for psychiatric placement because it wasn’t safe for them to go home. 

The doctors wondered whether the problem was specific to their city, perhaps reflecting scarce local resources. But in a new study in the journal Pediatrics, they found that this same pattern held true around the country over the period from 2008 to 2015.

“What we find nationwide is that over the last decade, the numbers of kids being admitted or seeking help in the emergency department or hospital for suicidal ideation or attempts have dramatically increased,” said Dr. Gregory Plemmons, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt. 

The New York Times, May 16, 2018


Traveling Art Exhibit Tackles the Stigma of Suicide

At the Lafayette Club in Minnetonka Beach on Thursday, May 10, John Bauer warmly greeted guests arriving for “Love in Darkness,” an evening event featuring dinner, a silent auction and guest speakers to raise funds and awareness for “What’s Left,” a traveling art exhibit created to spark discussion about suicide and mental illness.

The multimedia exhibit features more than 40 works from Minnesota artists and has been displayed at venues across the state, from Edge Center for the Arts in Bigfork to Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Minnetonka.

The exhibit was organized by Bauer, in partnership with MacRostie Art Center, and debuted in September 2015 in Bauer’s hometown of Grand Rapids, Minn. In 2016, “What’s Left” began touring, bringing a message of hope and the stories of those touched by suicide to towns large and small.

The project stems from Bauer’s personal experience with the devastation that suicide leaves in its wake: he lost his 34-year-old daughter Megan to suicide in 2013.

Laker Pioneer, May 19, 2018


New season of ’13 Reasons Why’ still targeted by doctors who say it glamorizes teen suicide

Medical experts say Netflix and creators of the second season of 13 Reasons Why — streaming Friday — aren’t doing enough to curb the increase in teen suicides and may be encouraging copycat cases. 

Data show the teen suicide rate rose by more than 70% between 2006 and 2016 with black teen suicides increasing far faster. The renewed criticism comes despite the series’ new embrace of suicide prevention, which includes a collaboration with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP).

Some critics of the series, which showed a suicide and sexual assault in graphic detail, blame the first season for glamorizing suicide. The proportion of visits involving suicidal thoughts — known as “ideation” — jumped by more than 40% last April and May compared to the weeks before the release of the series’ first season on March 31, 2017, according to a study of millions of doctors’ visits by 14- to 20-year-olds.

USA Today, May 18, 2018


Big spike in U.S. kids, teens attempting suicide

In a troubling sign that more young Americans are struggling with depression and anxiety, new research shows a significant rise in the number of school-age children and teens thinking of taking their own lives or actually attempting suicide.

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, found that the number of kids and teens hospitalized for suicidal thoughts or attempts more than doubled in the U.S. from 2008 to 2015.

“There are increasing rates of anxiety and depression in youth and young adults. Some people have theorized that social media is playing a role,” study author Dr. Gregory Plemmons, an associate professor of pediatrics with the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University, told CBS News.

CBS, May 16, 2018


Kids’ Suicide-Related Hospital Visits Rise Sharply

From 2008 to 2015, the proportion of emergency room and hospital encounters for suicide-related diagnoses almost tripled. 

About five years ago, pediatricians at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville found that more and more of their inpatient beds at the children’s hospital were occupied by children and adolescents with mental health issues, especially those who had come in because of suicide attempts, or suicidal thoughts. These patients were known as “boarders”: They were waiting for psychiatric placement because it wasn’t safe for them to go home.

The doctors wondered whether the problem was specific to their city, perhaps reflecting scarce local resources. But in a new study in the journal Pediatrics, they found that this same pattern held true around the country over the period from 2008 to 2015.

“What we find nationwide is that over the last decade, the numbers of kids being admitted or seeking help in the emergency department or hospital for suicidal ideation or attempts have dramatically increased,” said Dr. Gregory Plemmons.

The New York Times, May 16, 2018


His College Knew of His Despair. His Parents Didn’t, Until It Was Too Late

In the days after her son Graham hanged himself in his dormitory room at Hamilton College, Gina Burton went about settling his affairs in a blur of efficiency, her grief tinged with a nagging sense that something did not add up.

She fielded requests and sympathy notes from the college, promising the dean of students a copy of his obituary “so you can see how special Hamilton was to him.” This was why his suicide “makes no sense,” she added in a puzzled aside. The next day, Ms. Burton accepted condolences from the college president, and assured him “how right a choice Hamilton was” for her son.

But two weeks later, she read her son’s journal and everything changed. Mr. Burton, a sophomore, wrote that he was flunking three of his four classes and called himself a “failure with no life prospects.” He had struggled to sleep, missed classes, turned in assignments late. The college had known of his difficulty, he wrote, but had been slow to offer help and understanding.

“Would you care to shed some light on this?” Ms. Burton asked in an angry email sent at 2:53 a.m. to the academic dean, with copies to the president and the dean of students. “If this is what drove Graham, I don’t think I’ll be able to cope.”

The New York Times, May 13, 2018


9 Phrases That Spread Mental Health Stigma & What You Can Say Instead

For many people with mental illness, mental health advocates, and professionals alike, an essential goal of mental health awareness is to challenge the stigmas that surround mental health conditions. Stigma can have a super detrimental impact on the health and quality of care for mentally ill people. In fact, a 2014 report published in Psychological Science in the Public Interest found that mental health stigma is a primary barrier when it comes to mentally ill people accessing appropriate healthcare and resources.

Bustle, May 14, 2018 


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention TV Commercial, ‘Seize the Awkward’

iSpot.tv, May 14, 2018


New effort launched to spot early warning signs that your child may be thinking about suicide

These weren’t “weird” kids. They had friends, played sports and seemed fine. Until they killed themselves.

“I think that’s what parents think – my kid is safe because she’s a cheerleader, they are popular, they are active,” said Dianne Grossman of Rockaway, whose 12-year old daughter committed suicide after being bullied last year. “I want people to know their children think this (suicide) is an option.”

Grossman and Rachelle St. Phard of East Windsor, whose 18-year-old son took his life two years ago, say they live with regret and frustration for not seeing the signs their children were suffering.

On Wednesday, the two women – now public speakers to prevent teen suicides – endorsed a new strategy they hope will train a broader array of adults at school to spot a student in crisis.

NJ.com, May 12, 2018


Celebrity Suicides Trigger Copycat Deaths by Same Method

Not only does the suicide rate in the general population increase following a celebrity suicide, but victims copy the method, new research shows.

Investigators found that in the weeks following the death of actor and comedian Robin Williams on August 11, 2014, which was widely reported as a suicide by hanging, there was a surge in suicides by hanging.

Similarly, in the wake of the gunshot suicide of American football Hall of Famer Tiaina Baul Seau Jr (Junior Seau) on May 2, 2012, there was a jump in suicides by firearms.

“Our study showed not only that the rate of suicides increases following a celebrity suicide, but the method is copied as well,” Patrick Ying, MD, Department of Psychiatry, New York University (NYU) School of Medicine, New York City, told Medscape Medical News.

The findings were presented here at the American Psychiatric Association (APA) 2018 annual meeting.

Medscape, May 10, 2018


Depression among teens, millennials on the rise, Blue Cross Blue Shield study finds

Diagnosed cases of depression have skyrocketed, especially among adolescents and millennials, according to a new study by one of the nation’s largest commercial insurers.

Nationally, depression diagnoses surged by 33 percent from 2013 to 2016, says a report on medical claims released Thursday by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, a federation of 36 Blues that provide insurance for one in three Americans

During that period, depression among the network’s adolescents rose 63 percent; among millennials (ages 18 to 34), 47 percent.

The Inquirer, May 10, 2018


Former Gov. Richard Codey unveils plan to combat teen suicide ‘epidemic’

Teen suicide is taking more children’s lives than cancer, Democratic Sen. and former Gov. Richard Codey said Wednesday as he unveiled a plan to combat the “growing epidemic” with a $1 million grant.

New Jersey must act to prevent teen suicides, which have reached crisis level, Codey said at a news conference at Liberty Middle School in West Orange on Wednesday morning.

The former governor was joined by two mothers whose children died by suicide. 

NorthJersey.com, May 9, 2018


Teenage Suicide: Behind the smile of Reece Johnson

We delve deeper into teen suicide by looking behind the smile of 17-year-old Reece Johnson.

Bryan and Susan Johnson hope sharing their son’s story will save the lives of others.

“I won’t stand here and apologize for the choice that he made that brought us so much pain, sadness.  All I can say is..I don’t understand it,” said Bryan Johnson as he and his wife, Susan, stood before a packed church February 17th of 2018. 

Hundreds were gathered to celebrate the life of their son, Reece Johnson. Reece attended Fairhope High School where he made good grades and had a personality that naturally drew people to him.

Many of Reece’s friends shared stories of his fashion sense, his infectious smile, and his ability to pull others out of dark places.  Few realized the hurt he held inside.

“He was always going. He was always doing something.  You know he was not a kid that sat still.  He wasn’t sitting around saying…oh woe is me.  There was none of that, zero,” said Reece’s dad reflecting on his son’s life nearly three months after Reece’s Celebration of Life service.

News WKRG 5, May 8, 2018


Seventh teen suicide prompts community involvement in Herriman

The Herriman community is dealing with a crisis. Seven students at Herriman High School have committed suicide since last summer.

Less than one week ago, 17-year-old Nicholas Swint took his life.

“Since the suicides, it’s felt a lot different,” said Ryan Cherry, a Junior and Herriman High School. “I feel we’ve grown together as a mustang family, and we’ve started to look out for each other.”

Ryan and Nicholas were friends. They played basketball together often. Ryan knew his friend was sad at times, but he didn’t realize the extent of his friend’s depression.

Ryan Cherry knows what it’s like to feel down. He says getting bullied at school made him depressed.

“It put me in a state of depression,” said Cherry. “I really struggled. My grades dropped… I felt alone. I felt like no one cared.”

To help lift his peers, Ryan started the Golden Gate Club, a group to help students make friends and feel accepted.”

Good4Utah.com, May, 8, 2018


Experts: Suicide needs same attention as addiction crisis

Katelyn Simpson knows firsthand the dangerous of suicidal thoughts.

In 2015, just two weeks before her 20th birthday, Simpson was at a low point in her life. She had battled with depression and anxiety for years and had been seeing a counselor since she was 9 years old, but the lack of a support system and the ending of a romantic relationship left her feeling like she was a burden. 

“I just felt like I was just really not necessary in people’s lives at that time. I was like ‘Well, I just kind of don’t want to be here anymore.’ ”

She attempted suicide by trying to overdose on the depression medication she was taking at the time. But after taking the medication, she realized she made a mistake. She drove herself to Licking Memorial Hospital for immediate care and spent three days at Shepherd Hill.

Newark Advocate, May 5, 2018


A once suicidal teen wants others to know they are not alone

Two years ago, walking the halls of Maysville Middle School was unbearable for Rylee Butler.

She felt isolated, inferior and hopeless. More than anything, she felt like she was a burden and awaited the day when she would no longer be a bother to her friends and family.

Sunday, Rylee will walk with confidence during the first You are Not Alone; Suicide Prevention 5K at Maysville High School to bring awareness about mental health and suicide prevention – an event the 16-year-old has single-handedly coordinated. 

Times Recorder, May 3, 2018


‘Deaths of despair’: Report finds steep increase in suicide, drug and alcohol morbidity

The rate of “deaths of despair” has risen dramatically over the past decade in the United States, says an annual report released today.

Why that’s the case is a vexing question.

“Alcohol (abuse) is going up, suicide is going up, drug overdose is going up,” said Jon Roesler, epidemiological supervisor with the Minnesota Department of Health. “We’re changing as a society. Something is going on, which is bigger than I can wrap my head around.”

Nationally, the combined death rate from suicide, alcohol, opioids and other drugs — the so-called “deaths of despair” — increased by 50 percent from 2005 to 2016, according to the 2018 state health care scorecard released by The Commonwealth Fund, a foundation that specializes in health policy.

Twin Cities Pioneer Press, May 2, 2018


 

How to Get Help for Anxiety, Depression, and Other Mental Health Issues

Sometimes, the most challenging part of dealing with mental health issues is not figuring out that you need help, but figuring out exactly how to get help.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we’re using it as an opportunity to help guys not only open up about their overall mental wellness, but also to help them get the support they need, when they need it.

That’s why we’ve put together a list of resources for guys. Whether you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or if you just need someone to talk to, there is help available right now — and that’s the first step on the road to overall wellness.

Men’s Health, May 1, 2018


April, 2018


Grieving Parents Include Suicide In Son’s Obit To Remove Stigma, Promote Dialogue

Parents Stephen and Carol Cohen had nothing but pride for their son Michael. The Pomona College graduate was an avid traveler who spent three years in China, visiting 27 other countries before returning to Boston in 2016. Back home, he worked as a translator, made new business connections and fell in love. But last December he fell into a short, sudden and severe depression, which ended with his decision to take his own life.

The Cohens decided to include Michael’s cause of death in the obituary they published in The Boston Globe — a decision they made in hopes of promoting dialogue and removing the stigma of mental illness. They tell Here & Now’s Robin Young they hope their openness might prevent further suicides.

WSHU–NPR, April 30, 2018


Depression: A Killing Disease: the effects of depression on the body beyond suicide

In the first part of this interview, Dr. Charles Nemeroff, Director of the University of Miami Center on Aging and Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at University of Miami, discusses depression, including its symptoms, epidemiology, and the link to other physical illnesses like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. In particular, he discusses the role of depression in clot formation and inflammation. He then looks ahead to future studies and treatments that might target inflammatory factors, including stem cells, and argues for psychiatrists to consider obtaining inflammatory marker labs on every patient that they see.

Psychiatric Times, April 30, 2018


AI-Powered Systems Target Mental Health: Chatbots and algorithms may help doctors treat depression more effectively

Every day Nick Impson, a 25-year-old graduate student at Georgetown University, checks in with Woebot, a text-based chatbot.

Woebot asks Mr. Impson, who has been battling depression, what is happening in his life that day and how he is feeling. Woebot analyzes the language Mr. Impson uses and provides coping strategies drawn from cognitive behavioral therapy. The whole exchange takes about 10 minutes.

The Wall Street Journal, April 29, 2018


Suicides reaching ‘epidemic’ levels in Wichita area

There’s an epidemic unfolding in the Wichita area, local officials say, but many people are reluctant to talk about it.

There were 96 suicides in Sedgwick County last year, the highest number since the Sedgwick County Suicide Prevention Coalition began tracking the numbers in 2001, said Nicole Klaus, a psychologist and associate professor at the University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita.

The numbers have climbed sharply in recent years, and experts say they don’t have an explanation.

“It’s the responsibility of the whole community to be addressing this epidemic of suicide,” Klaus said.

The Wichita Eagle, April 27, 2018


Utah Is Finally Addressing Its Epidemic of Youth Suicide

We are facing a dire situation in Utah. Since 2011, youth suicide rates have increased four times faster than the national average — a staggering 140 percent spike within our state.

While we tirelessly work to push our movement forward, there is no doubt that the culture war is taking a toll. When young people are bullied in school, exiled from their homes, and targeted for discrimination by government and church leaders, they are at risk. They become children without a tribe.

The Advocate, April 26, 2018


Suicide: A Silent Contributor to Opioid-Overdose Deaths

As the toll of opioid-overdose deaths in the United States rises, we face an urgent need for prevention. But preventing such deaths will require a better understanding of the diverse trajectories by which overdoses occur, including the distinction between intentional (suicide) and unintentional (accidental) deaths, be they in patients with chronic pain who overdose on their opioid analgesics or in those with a primary opioid use disorder (OUD). 

Interventions to prevent overdose deaths in suicidal people will differ from interventions targeted at accidental overdoses. Yet most strategies for reducing opioid-overdose deaths do not include screening for suicide risk, nor do they address the need to tailor interventions for suicidal persons. 

Moreover, the inaccuracy of available data on the proportion of suicides among opioid-overdose deaths — which are frequently classified as “undetermined” if there is no documented history of depression or a suicide note — hinders deployment of appropriate prevention services.

The New England Journal of Medicine, April 26, 2018


How one family is educating students, teachers on mental health

Will and Deb Binion speak passionately about their goal to give hope to families across the country. After losing their son Jordan in 2010, the Binions decided that they didn’t want another family to suffer the heartbreak they had.

At 17, Jordan, known as Jordie, committed suicide. He had struggled with what at the time his parents thought was depression since he was 15, but had never been given a thorough psychiatric evaluation.

NBC News, April 24, 2018


Question, persuade and refer. How QPR can help prevent suicide

Kathleen Fuchs isn’t afraid to ask people if they’re contemplating suicide.

Fuchs is a retired counselor who spent decades helping students at Lawrence University, including more than a few struggling with suicidal thoughts.

“We’ve grown up with the thought that it’s intruding if we ask someone if they’re thinking of suicide,” she said.

Fuchs is part of a group of about a hundred volunteers who have taught thousands of people in Outagamie, Calumet and Winnebago counties a technique meant to help them prevent suicide.

The technique is called QPR, which stands for question, persuade and refer. The training focuses on asking questions of the individual thinking about suicide, persuading them to get help and referring them to mental health services.

The first step — asking about suicide — is often the most difficult, Fuchs said.

Post-Crescent, April 22, 2018


Saving Face, Losing Lives: The Political Importance of Cornell Suicides

Why is it that when we hear about hate crimes on campus, we can easily interpret such acts as political, systemically determined events — and are thus moved to anger — but when we hear of a student committing suicide in her own dorm room, all that we have to offer is our sympathy? Rather than reading her suicide as political, we deem it merely personal; a grieving process is initiated, and in a few weeks, the rest of the world moves on.

When talking about suicide, one is inevitably pushed towards discussing the personal rather than the political. The individual circumstances or symptoms unique to the person – and not the social or political conditions which produced them – are what tend to shape discussions following a suicide. For suicide theorist Suman Gupta, this is because more often than not, the act of suicide is deemed by mental health authorities (and subsequently, the media) as an “involuntary” decision:

Regarded as persons with a psychological dysfunction and subject to pathological disorder . . . suicidal individuals are divested of responsibility for themselves. Thus regarded, their motives and intentions can be disregarded, especially if they are inconvenient to establishment norms. They become involuntary symptoms of a malaise and therefore devoid of rational judgment . . . and suicide is thus removed from the possibility of political resonance.

The Cornell Daily Sun, April 19, 2018


‘It is really about listening’: Teen suicide-prevention expert counsels parents, teachers and students in Jordan School District

Parents showed up by the hundreds Monday to hear a national suicide-prevention expert speak at Jordan School District, a community alarmed by a spate of youth suicides this school year.

More than 200 parents, many with notebooks and pens in hand, attended the evening presentation in Riverton by Scott Poland, a psychology professor at Nova Southeastern University in Florida, on strategies for identifying and preventing youth suicide.

District staffers brought in Poland as part of their response to five students enrolled at Herriman High dying by suicide since summer. State officials also say they’re investigating several other youth suicide cases in that southwestern corner of Salt Lake County, though they noted it is too early to know whether the deaths are linked by anything other than location.

The Salt Lake Tribune, April 17, 2018


Touring exhibit drives home rate of suicide among college students

Send Silence Packing, a national traveling exhibition of donated backpacks representing the roughly 1,100 college students lost to suicide each year, is making stops this spring at central San Joaquin Valley community college campuses.

The program by Active Minds, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit dedicated to changing the discussion about mental health, is designed to raise awareness about the incidence and impact of suicide, connect students to needed mental health resources, and inspire action for suicide prevention.

At each exhibit of Send Silence Packing, about 1,100 backpacks are displayed in a high-traffic area of campus — for instance, the quad or, in the case Monday at Fresno City College, the cafeteria — giving a visual representation of the scope of the problem and the number of victims.

The Fresno Bee, April 16, 2018


Six Ways Social Media Negatively Affects Your Mental Health

The rise of social media has meant that we as a global population are more connected than we have ever been in the history of time.

However, our reliance on social media can have a detrimental effect on our mental health, with the average Brit checking their phone as much 28 times a day.

While social media platforms can have their benefits, using them too frequently can make you feel increasingly unhappy and isolated in the long run.

The constant barrage of perfectly filtered photos that appear on Instagram are bound to knock many people’s self-esteem, while obsessively checking your Twitter feed just before bed could be contributing towards poor quality of sleep.

Independent, April 16, 2018


Suicide among teens and young adults tripled since 1940s: Local middle school counselor says level of anxiety has soared among students

At only 15 years old, one Fenton freshman has already lost two of her close friends to suicide.

Fenway Jones doesn’t know exactly why her friends, age 16 and 15, decided to take their own lives, but she wants to help prevent it from happening to other people.

“I am planning a Dungeons and Dragons charity event where all of the proceeds are going to a suicide prevention charity,” she said. “I lost two friends in the past year to suicide.”

She’s trying to do some good so other people don’t have to feel the grief of losing someone close to them to suicide. The event, called Jasper’s Game Day, named after one of Jones’ friends who died from suicide, will take place April 21 at Ziege Games in Howell. All the proceeds go to the Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network. See sidebar for more information.

Suicide, which claims 4,600 young lives every year in the U.S., is the third leading cause of death among young people between the ages of 10 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That amounts to more than 12 suicides a day from young people.

“More kids have died from suicide than school shootings in the past year,” Jones said.

Tri-County Times, April 13, 2018


What’s the Best Way to Treat Mental Health Problems in Kids?

Research finds the emerging field of integrative behavior health shows promise.

No one knows for sure, but the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 13 and 20 percent of youth ages 3 to 17 experience a mental health problem each year. This includes diagnoses of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, depression, autism spectrum disorders and Tourette syndrome.

In fact, many mental health problems that continue into adulthood – including substance abuse and behavioral problems – actually begin during childhood and adolescence. This issue raises many questions; maybe the most pressing is, what’s the best way to treat mental health problems in children?

Psychology Today, April 13, 2018


Irritability in childhood linked to teen suicide risk

Most children experience mood swings from time to time, but kids with chronic irritability and serious depression or anxiety are at increased risk for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts in adolescence, suggests a large Canadian study.

Based on records for 1,430 children followed for up to 17 years, researchers found that those who were particularly irritable and depressed or anxious between ages 6 and 12 were twice as likely as peers to think about suicide or make a suicide attempt between ages 13 and 17.

For girls in particular, the combination of high irritability and depression or anxiety in childhood was tied to a three-fold higher risk of suicidal thoughts or attempts in the teen years, the study found.

KFGO FM/AM, April 11, 2018


Why is there a higher suicide rate in the spring?

Thanks to heightened public awareness of seasonal affective disorder, conventional wisdom now says that most suicides occur during the cold, dark months of winter, but that’s wrong — it’s actually the warmer months. It’s a serious problem, too: In the U.S. in 2015, for example, the CDC reports there were 44,193 suicides, or 13.7 for every thousand people. It’s been suggested that seasonal depression might have to do with springtime taxes, but something more biological might be the cause. It could be pollen.

Big Think, April 10, 2018


Devastating obituary details bullied 12-year-old’s ‘intense pain’ before suicide 

A 12-year-old in North Dakota who took her own life after being bullied at school “experienced intense pain most people her age will never know,” her heart-wrenching obituary reads.

Cherish “Chance” Houle had been living in a foster home, in addition to dealing with bullies at her Bismarck school, before her death on Saturday.

“Those who loved Cherish didn’t know how unbearable the pain she was experiencing had become for her,” her relatives wrote. “The support and love she was able to receive from those around her wasn’t enough to heal the scars of the relentless bullying she had already suffered.”

New York Daily News, April 5, 2018


A.I. Could Accurately Predict Those at Risk of Suicide in the Future

Suicide results in approximately 44,965 American deaths each year and is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Deaths from cardiovascular disease and other ailments greatly outnumber those caused by suicide, but suicide rates have either remained steady or even increased in certain parts of the U.S., while heart condition casualties have been decreasing.

For science journalist Lydia Denworth, this is a clear sign that current efforts to prevent suicide aren’t working. She believes doctors simply aren’t able to identify potential risk factors and act on them for all of their patients. Denworth tells Cheddar’s Morning Bell that artificial intelligence developed by social scientists could predict who is most at risk so doctors can act more effectively instead of spending time analyzing medical records.

Inverse, April 5, 2018


‘We’re racking our brains’: A series of teen suicides has left the Herriman High School community searching for answers 

When Herriman High School Principal James Birch heard about the first student suicide last summer, he immediately thought of his own two teenagers and sat them down for a talk.

“I made it known that I loved them, and that anything they were going through, they could talk to me about it,” Birch said in an emotional interview. “It didn’t matter how small it was — I was interested, and I would be there.”

Since that summer day, four more students enrolled at Herriman High have died by suicide, and state officials say they’re investigating several other youth suicide cases in that southwestern corner of Salt Lake County. It’s still too early in the probe, authorities say, to know whether the incidents are linked by anything other than location.

The Salt Lake Tribune, April 5, 2018


CDC Begins Investigation on Stark County Suicide Cluster After 12 Adolescent Deaths in Less Than a Year

In the last seven months, the communities in Stark County have experienced a concerning and tragic trend. Twelve teens in the Perry, Plain, Jackson, Northwest, and Canton local school districts have committed suicide. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have arrived in Stark County to begin a two-week site visit in an attempt to detect the motivations and connections between a dozen suicides in an isolated location. 

Scene, April 4, 2018


Kat Chat discusses suicide warning signs, prevention

Representatives from Kansas State’s Counseling Services and the Student Access Center hosted a Kat Chat presentation Tuesday for students on suicide prevention and the warning signs, titled “Below the Surface: Suicide Awareness and Prevention.”

The Kat Chat was hosted by Paige Humphrey, senior in biology, and Sammie Hillstock, senior in human development and family science. Humphrey stressed the importance of starting the conversation with the person who you may feel is considering suicide and noticing the risk factors of suicide.

Suicide is the leading cause of death among college students, according to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center. A study done in 2012 by the SPRC reports about 6.6 to 7.5 percent of college students consider suicide. With the Kansas State student population of 25,000, that means about 1,600 to 1,800 students consider suicide at K-State alone, Humphrey said.

The Collegian, April 3, 2018


Health Matters: Let’s Talk Mental Health with Children

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in children under the age of 14. A problem, Dr. Emad Salman, the regional medical officer of Golisano Children’s Hospital of Southwest Florida, says can be prevented. “About one in five kids, that’s 20 percent of children, by the age of 14 will have a diagnosis of a mental health condition.”

Currently, mental health conditions have few options for care. “There’s a big fear of mental health. It’s a cultural fear,” said Dr. Salman.

The most common mental health conditions for children under 18 are anxiety and depression. “Most of the treatments is behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, which has been scientifically proven to make a difference,” explained Dr. Salman.

NBC 2, April 2, 2018


 

TO OUR READERS: In December 2017 we published a link to a New York Times op-ed piece that was critical of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s position on the role of guns in suicide (see below). In the interests of fairness we feel it is important to offer the AFSP’s own words on Firearms and Suicide Prevention.

As we begin 2018, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention embarks on the next phase of Project 2025, the first, large-scale initiative focused on reducing the suicide rate in the U.S. Suicide is a major public health issue with a 25 percent increase over the past two decades; suicide remains the 10th leading cause of death with the rate continuing to increase. As the nation’s largest suicide prevention organization, AFSP has set an imperative to use new evidence-based approaches to save as many lives as possible through Project 2025.

Project 2025 identifies a set of critical areas, based on in-depth analysis, where the most lives can be saved in the shortest amount of time. In the critical area of suicide by firearm, we learned that educating firearms owners about suicide prevention has the potential to save more than 9,000 lives by 2025 if implemented nationwide.

We know the facts well:

•Half of all suicides in the U.S. are by firearm
•Suicide risk increases when lethal means are readily accessible
•Research shows that having a firearm in the home increases the risk of suicide

To date, efforts to reduce suicide by gun have largely failed – with 23,000 lives lost each year – we must try a new approach. There is promising evidence that providing suicide prevention training for those who influence a specific community can reduce the suicide risk for that community. Research also tells us that by educating the firearms-owning community about suicide risk, safe storage and removing access to lethal means, including firearms, when someone is at risk, we can reduce suicide. In fact, this approach is called for in our country’s 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.

This is why AFSP made a strategic decision to work with the firearms-owning community on suicide prevention education. By working with the National Shooting Sports Foundation, we are systematically disseminating suicide prevention education to thousands of gun retail stores, shooting ranges and gun owners nationwide. This education focuses on risk factors and warning signs, and actions that must be taken: temporary removal of firearms from the home during periods of risk, safe storage (locked and unloaded) at all times; and denying sale when appropriate.

Importantly, AFSP receives no funding from NSSF, firearms manufacturers or gun lobbying organizations, nor is AFSP providing funds to NSSF or similar groups. As an organization that welcomes all people with diverse views, we do not currently engage in any political action related to gun policy.

We are taking an unprecedented, large-scale step to reduce suicide by firearm and save as many lives as possible. In 2018, we look forward to working with additional partners to help extend the reach of this critical Project 2025 area.

 

The original post from December, 2017:

The Gun Lobby Is Hindering Suicide Prevention

In August 2006, my father fatally shot himself with a gun he pilfered from a friend’s bedroom. I wanted to do something positive in my mourning, so I went on a suicide-prevention walk organized by a nonprofit organization called the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention in Santa Monica, Calif.

After conversations with the A.F.S.P. staff area director in Los Angeles about my passion for suicide prevention and gun control — issues she told me she cared about, too — I joined the group’s Greater Los Angeles Chapter board, which required me to donate or raise $1,000 a year. I also helped organize an “Out of the Darkness” walk in Pasadena, Calif.; the organization raises more than $22 million a year at such walks around the country.

The New York Times, December 26, 2017


 


 

Deaths From Suicide: A Look at 18 States
A Special Report with Data from the National Violent Death Reporting System, 2013-2014

Established in 1993, the Safe States Alliance is a national non-profit organization and professional association whose mission is to strengthen the practice of injury and violence prevention. Safe States is the only national non-profit or-ganization and professional association that represents the diverse and ever-expanding group of professionals who comprise the field of injury and violence prevention.

Safe States • www.safestates.org • February 2017

 


 

 

The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team – whose investigative work was the subject of the acclaimed 2015 film Spotlight – has produced a report on the current state of mental health care in Massachusetts, The Desperate and the Dead: Families in Fear. Closing psychiatric hospitals seemed humane, but the state failed to build a system to replace them, June 23, 2016.  

 


 

 

Children’s Hospitals Admissions for Suicidal Thoughts or Actions Double During Past Decade – Report from the Pediatric Academic Societies.

 

 

Suicide Rates After Discharge From Psychiatric Facilities

IMPORTANCE: High rates of suicide after psychiatric hospitalization are reported in many studies, yet the magnitude of the increases and the factors underlying them remain unclear.

OBJECTIVES: To quantify the rates of suicide after discharge from psychiatric facilities and examine what moderates those rates.

JAMA Psychiatry, June 01, 2017


 

The World Health Organization and the International Association for Suicide Prevention have released an updated version of their guide for media professionals, Preventing Suicide. It’s a 21 page resource for responsible reporting about suicide and includes a section on the scientific evidence of the impact media has on suicidal behavior.

Highly recommended reading for anyone who cares about this issue. If you come across insensitive or inappropriate reporting on suicide, consider sending this guide to the editors and reporters.


“13 Reasons Why” – Waiting for the Light,
Cursing the Bread 

The Netflix adaptation of the young adult novel 13 Reasons Why has stirred up debate about how this topic is covered across media – especially in popular fiction. 

Here on the Tommy Fuss News page we’ve covered this topic several times:

City teen’s suicide prevention video goes viral – 13 Reasons Why Not
– The Journal Gazette, June 3, 2017

Is Suicide Contagion Real?
Psych Central, May 19, 2017

How To React When Your Friend Is Talking About Suicide
Refinery29, May 5, 2017

Educators and school psychologists raise alarms about 13 Reasons Why
The Washington Post, May 2, 2017 

Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why and the trouble with dramatising suicide
The Guardian, April 26, 2017

How 13 Reasons Why gets suicide wrong: Voices
USA Today, April 18, 2017

To these we’d like to add this publication from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention: Tips for Parents to talk with their Children about 13 Reasons Why and Suicide.

 

 

Critics have pointed out that the framing device – the central character Hannah sends 13 cassette tapes to friends and others detailing how they contributed to her decision to end her life – is not the typical course of the mental illness and stressors that result in suicide.

[May I be forgiven for suggesting that a contemporary teenager using a cassette tape recorder instead of a smartphone to make and distribute their post-suicide diatribes seems a wild anachronism. Akin to having Hannah send the info via telegram. The teens I know today would be hard pressed to identify a cassette tape much less use one.]

13 Reasons Why has been accused of  romanticizing suicide, a claim that also could be made against the most famous teen suicides in all of literature: 15 year old Romeo Montague and 13 year old Juliet Capulet. 

The arch of the 13 Reasons Why story also defines suicide as a means of revenge against those who Hannah felt betrayed and ostracized her. This, researchers and professionals tell us, is almost never the case in real life. Depression and anxiety are mental illnesses that, left untreated (or improperly treated), can result in suicide. 

It is not the actions of others that is the primary cause of suicidal ideation. It is a self-generated condition. Externally many suicides can appear successful in all the ways we measure success.


Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked; 
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
‘Good-morning,’ and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich – yes, richer than a king –
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread; 
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head. 

– Edwin Arlington Robinson