Teenage suicide

Teenage suicide is the act of self-killing by a teenager. Although the suicide rate among youth significantly decreased in the mid-1990s, suicide deaths in the United States remain high in the 15 to 24 age group with 3,971 suicides in 2001 and over 132,000 suicide attempts in 2002, making it the third leading cause of death for those aged 15 to 24. [ [http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/factsheets/suifacts.htm Suicide: Fact Sheet] , 30 March 2006, retrieved 2 May 2006.] . In the United Kingdom the suicide rate for males aged between 15 and 24 rose substantially between 1976 to 1991 (when it peaked at 15.8 deaths per 100,000 people), although it has been declining since. This compares with the rate of suicide among females in the same age group remaining largely static. [http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Expodata/Spreadsheets/D7468.xls] However, given the overall decline in the suicide rate in the UK, the rate of suicide amongst the 15-24 male population, which remains high, has been a considerable cause for concern. [ [http://www.statistics.gov.uk/CCI/article.asp?ID=628&Pos=4&ColRank=1&Rank=192 National Statistics Online ] ] More preventive measures have been taken in the last ten years, including increased understanding of the risk factors and causes and spreading information to schools and parents.

High-risk groups

*Teenagers who are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
*Teenagers who have recently undergone a life-changing event, such as blindness, loss of limbs, deafness, or loss of a loved one.
*Teenagers of conduct disorder (a high level of aggressiveness).
*Adolescents who are or have been in youth detention centers or boot camps.
*Teenagers who move towns, cities, or countries and are separated from people they were once close with.
*Teenagers from emotionally dysfunctional families, where they do not feel safe to talk about things or show their true feelings, and where they are regularly invalidated.
*Adolescents who are physically or mentally disabled.
*Adolescents who have a mental disorder, such as clinical depression, schizophrenia, eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorder, social anxiety, or bipolar disorder. Over 90% of teen suicide victims have a mental disorder, depression, or a history of alcohol or drug abuse.
*Students who have failed in school or exams.
*Minority indigenous adolescents, e.g. Native Americans, indigenous Australians.
*Victims of bullying or domestic abuse.
*Children of divorced parents.
*Children with restrictive parents.
*Children who are having difficulty with school work, for example A levels or GCSEs.

Population differences

In the U.S., male adolescent(s) commit suicide at a rate five times greater than that of female adolescents, although suicide attempts by females are three times as frequent as those by males. A possible reason for this is the method of attempted suicide for males is typically that of firearm use, with a 78-90% chance of fatality. Females are more likely to try a different method, such as ingesting poison [http://www.safeyouth.org/scripts/facts/suicide.asp Youth Suicide Fact Sheet] , 1 January 2005, retrieved 2 May 2006.] . Females have more parasuicides.

Suicide rates vary for different ethnicities due to cultural differences. In 1998, white Americans accounted for 84% of all youth suicides, 61% male, 23% female. However, the suicide rate for Native Americans was 19.3 per 100,000, much higher than the overall rate (8.5 per 100,000). The suicide rate for African-Americans has increased more than twofold since 1981. A national survey of high school students conducted in 1999 reported that Hispanic students are twice as likely to report an attempted suicide as white students .

A controversial U.S. government study, titled "Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide", found that homosexual youth are two to three times more likely to attempt suicide than other young people. Several researchers suggest that bisexual and youth uncertain of their sexual orientation may be at higher risk for suicidal behavior than homosexual teenagers. Many homosexual teenagers who commit suicide may also suffer from mental illnesses or substance abuse disorders, making the connection more complicated. Institutionalized and internalized homophobia [Gibson, P. (1989), “Gay and Lesbian Youth Suicide”, in Fenleib, Marcia R. (ed.), Report of the Secretary's Task Force on Youth Suicide, United States Government Printing Office, ISBN 0160025087] may also lead LGBT youth to think that their parents will throw them out and perhaps abuse them for being homosexual. It is impossible to know the suicide rate of homosexual youth because homosexuality is often hidden, particularly in this age group. Further research is currently being done to explain the prevalence of suicide among homosexual youths [ [http://www.youth.org/loco/PERSONProject/Resources/ResearchStudies/suicide2.html "Sexual Orientation and Youth Suicide"] by Dr. Gary Remafedi, October 6 1999, retrieved 2 May 2006.] [ [http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2248/is_146_37/ai_89942832 "Youth suicide risk and sexual orientation - Statistical Data Included"] by Rutter, Philip A & Soucar, Emil, Summer 2002, retrieved 2 May 2006.] [ [http://www.jeramyt.org/gay/gaysuic.htm Articles Relating to Suicide by GLB Youth] , retrieved 3 May 2006.] .

In 2004, 1,985 adolescents under the age of 20 committed suicide, an increase of 18% from the previous year. [ [http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2007-02-05-kids-suicides_x.htm Kids' suicides rise, CDC report finds - USATODAY.com ] ]

On September 6, 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported suicide rate in American adolescents (especially girls, 10 to 24 years old) increased 8% (2003 to 2004), the largest jump in 15 years. Specifically, in 2004 - 4,599 suicides in Americans ages 10 to 24, up from 4,232 in 2003, for a rate of 7.32 per 100,000 people that age. Before, the rate dropped to 6.78 per 100,000 in 2003 from 9.48 per 100,000 in 1990. The findings also reported that antidepressant drugs reduced suicide risk than increase it. Psychiatrists found that the increase is due to the decline in prescriptions of antidepressant drugs like Prozac to young people since 2003, leaving more cases of serious depression untreated. In a December 2006 study, The American Journal of Psychiatry said that a decrease in antidepressant prescriptions to minors of just a few percentage points coincided with a 14 percent increase in suicides in the United States; in the Netherlands, the suicide rate was 50% up, upon prescription drop. [ [http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/07/health/07suicide.html New York Times, Suicide Rises in Youth; Antidepressant Debate Looms] ]

uicide prevention

Promoting overall mental health among adolescents is key to reducing possible suicidal thoughts. Some people argue that limiting young people's access to lethal weapons, such as firearms, may be a pivotal deterrent. Some school-based youth suicide awareness programs exist to try to increase high-school students' awareness of the problem, provide knowledge about the behavioral characteristics of teens at risk, and describe available treatment or counseling resources. However, some research has shown that this may have an unintended negative effect of suggesting suicide as an option for teenagers [ [http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/calltoaction/calltoaction.htm "The Surgeon General's Call To Action To Prevent Suicide 1999"] , United States Department of Health and Human Services, 21 July 2004, retrieved 2 May 2006.] .

When talking to a teenage person who is contemplating suicide, it is important to take the threat seriously. Seventy-five percent of all suicides give some warning of their intentions to a friend or family member. [cite web
url=http://www.afsp.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=F2F25092-7E90-9BD4-C4658F1D2B5D19A0| title=When you fear someone will take their own life
publisher= [http://www.afsp.org/ American Foundation for Suicide Prevention]

There are many methods of helping teenagers who are considering suicide. In order to help a suicidal person it is important to show the helper can be trusted and will listen. Seeing a doctor is widely recommended as well. A course doctors commonly take when presented with a young, suicidal patient is a combination of drug-based treatment (eg. imipramine or fluoxetine) with a 'talking-based' therapy, such as referral to a cognitive behaviour therapist. This kind of therapy concentrates on modifying self-destructive and irrational thought processes. [cite web
title=Treatments: Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
publisher= [http://www.depressionet.com.au/aboutus.html depresioNet]
] If you know someone who has suicidal thoughts, or you yourself are having suicidal thoughts, there are things that can be done to help. The most important thing you can do is take the suicidal thoughts seriously. Do not tell them that these thoughts will go away or they will get better on their own. The next thing you should do is notify an adult of the suicidal thoughts. This can be your parents, a teacher, a counselor, a doctor, etc. Tell someone who can help. You can also listen to them while they talk about their feelings. Never tell them not to worry about their feelings, or that the feelings will go away on their own and they will get better on their own. Never leave anyone alone that you feel may be in danger of hurting themselves. There are also hotlines, which can be used if needed. The hotline centers have trained professionals who can talk about problems and sort through their feelings (U.S.DHSS, 2006). If you know someone is suicidal there are things, which can serve as protective factors. This includes but is not limited to clinical care for those with psychological disorders, limited access to items that can be used to attempt suicide, a strong support system of friends, family, and health care personnel, help developing skills to cope with stressful situation, and a strong support system of religious beliefs (U.S.DHSS, 2006).

When trying to help a teenager who is considering suicide, it's important to try to find out what is troubling the person. Lack of parental interest in their teenage children may be considered a factor in teenage suicide: according to one study 90 percent of suicidal teenagers believed their families did not understand them. [cite web
url=http://www.aap.org/advocacy/childhealthmonth/prevteensuicide.htm| title=AAP - Preventing Teen Suicide | publisher= [http://www.aap.org/ American Academy of Pediatrics]

When confronted by a suicidal teen, it is often an unsuccessful strategy to try to argue them out of committing suicide, or attempt to make them feel guilty for considering suicide (e.g. "your family loves you so much, how could you think like this?"). This type of intervention can actually serve to alienate the child further. Instead, a better solution may consist of an exploration of the reasons why the teenager is so unhappy and feels that suicide is the best solution. The teenager's pediatrician will also be able to plan a suitable course of treatment, or make a psychiatric referral, if the teenager is willing to engage with the proposed treatment.

In a crisis situation professional help must be sought, either at hospital or a walk-in clinic. There are also several telephone help numbers for help on teenage suicide, depending on one's location (country/state). Also, emergency services should be contacted immediately, in case the teenager makes a suicide attempt.

Further reading

*Alan L. Berman; David A Jobes; and Morton M. Silverman. "Adolescent Suicide: Assessment and Intervention". 2nd Edition. APA 2005


External links

* [http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org National Suicide Prevention Lifeline]
* [http://www.stampoutsuicide.org.uk/ Stamp Out Suicide] Has a Resources page with contacts, some especially for teenagers and young people in the UK and Ireland.
* [http://kithp.50webs.com - Kids in Trouble Help Page] The Kids in Trouble Help Page has helped many teens by being a user friendly place where Kids and Teens can find the Help they need in all kinds of situations including, Suicide, Child Abuse, Depression and Runaways. Site includes links to all kinds of helpful info, and stories of other kids who have dealt with similar issues.
* [http://eqi.org/ts1.htm - Suicide and Emotional Intelligence] - index for many different resources involving teen suicide. Site includes information and valuable help for teens and parents of teens, as well as emotional needs that lead up to and cause suicide.
* [http://www.ulifeline.org/main/page/53/SuicidePrevention ULifeline Suicide Prevention] - section about suicide on ULifeline, a mental health resource for college students.
* [http://www.teensuicide.us/ TeenSuicide.us] - suicide information.
* [http://www.thesecondwindfund.org/ Second Wind Fund] - a teenage suicide prevention fund.
* [http://www.thetrevorhelpline.org The Trevor Helpline: 1 866 - 4U TREVOR] - nationwide, 24-hour, free, confidential suicide helpline for gay and questioning teenagers, United States. See The Trevor Project for the Wikipedia article.
* [http://www.statistics.gov.uk/CCI/article.asp?ID=628&Pos=4&ColRank=1&Rank=192 Research from the UK government into the suicide rate in the UK.]
* [http://rachelschallenge.com Rachel's Challenge] - a school presentation to stop teen suicide and school violence
* [http://www.statistics.gov.uk/StatBase/Expodata/Spreadsheets/D7468.xls UK official statistics for suicide.]
* [http://www.hopeline.com/ National Hopeline Network]
* [http://www.mind.org.uk/ Mind (National Association for Mental Health) UK]
* [http://www.suicidepreventionhelp.com/directory/Teens_and_Young_Adults/ Suicide prevention resources relating to Teens] * U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (2006). Teen suicide. WebMd. Retrieved on September 3, 2008 from: http://www.webmd.com/mental-health/teen-suicide

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