Study: Teen suicide spike was no fluke

Sep 02, 2008

A troubling study in the September 3rd Journal of the American Medical Association raises new concerns about kids committing suicide in this country. After a one year spike in the number of suicides, doctors were hoping to see more normal numbers in the latest study, but they didn't. The number of kids committing suicide in the U.S. remains higher than expected, and that has doctors and parents looking for answers.

For more than a decade the suicide rate among kids in this country had steadily and consistently declined, but that trend ended abruptly.

"Suddenly in 2004 we see the sharpest increase in the past 15 years and it appears that it's persisting into 2005," says Jeff Bridge, PhD, Nationwide Children's Hospital.

2005 is the most recent year that the numbers are available, and they don't look promising. Jeff Bridge is a researcher at Nationwide Children's Hospital who conducted the study. He says while the numbers dipped slightly between '04 and '05 overall they are still up significantly.

That's disturbing news to Rick Baumann. After his son, Gabe, first attempted suicide as a teenager, Rick devoted his life to suicide prevention and educating others. Like many parents, Rick knew little about warning signs.

"He just withdrew, wasn't answering phone calls to his friends and all of that, but I have four other children and he was a teenager, and I just assumed it was teenage behavior," says Rick.

But often it's much more than that, and now that researchers have identified what may be an emerging crisis, the next step is to figure out what's causing it. One answer may lie in the prescription of antidepressant medication. Because of concerns over side effects, the number of kids prescribed anti-depressants has dropped by as much as 20 percent** and that may be having a dire impact.

"The vast majority of young people who complete suicide have some sort of psychiatric disorder. Most commonly depression or some mood disorder," says John Campo, MD, Nationwide Children's Hospital.

So the kids who need the medicine most may not be getting it. Campo says there is no proven link between the drop in prescriptions and the rise in suicides, but the fact that they happened at the same time is worth looking into. Experts say they also want to look into the Internet and how that may be playing a role in the number of kids committing suicide.

*Suicide Trends Among Youths Aged 10 to 19 Years in the United States, 1996-2005, Journal of the American Medical Association, Volume 300, No. 9, September 3, 2008

** John Campo, MD, Chief of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Nationwide Children's Hospital - interviewed August, 2008

Source: Nationwide Children's Hospital

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jddj
1.7 / 5 (6) Sep 03, 2008
Stop the brainwashing!
Depression is NOT a disease!
You are depressed by depressing facts/events, period.
The people who do not get depressed when presented with depressing facts/events are the anormal ones...
insectking
5 / 5 (4) Sep 03, 2008
Wrong, there are people with serotonin and dopamine imbalances who suffer from severe depression and schizotypal manic episodes. Anxiety disorder leads to out-of-whack adrenaline, cortosol and dopamine responses.

There are people who suffer and live with these obstacles. I agree that pharmaceutical lobbyists are out of control with over-prescribing psychiatric medication but dismissing it out of hand is cruelty created by negligent ignorance. It's on par with telling an HIV victim they do just need vitamins and exercise to get better.
nilbud
3.7 / 5 (3) Sep 03, 2008
jddj is a scientologist or else a plain old fashioned self starting cretin.
Glis
not rated yet Sep 03, 2008
The 20% figure raises some questions.

With the economy and healthcos messing with prescription coverages, I wonder if more teens that have adapted to being on seratonin, dopamine, norepenephrine re-uptake inhibitors, are getting cut off abruptly. If you think these drugs cause problems when you take them as your supposed to, try quitting them cold turkey.
Keter
5 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2008
I would look to what these kids are EATING. Our food supply is so contaminated by chemicals, and any combination of those could be causing neurological symptoms, including depression and suicidal thoughts. Prescribing more chemicals on top of chemical overload is like putting a bandaid over an open artery. :o(

And yeah, the state of the world and the media these days is definitely not helping anyone's mood. :oP
x646d63
5 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2008
Would be interesting to see graphs of teen suicide against the following:

consumption of GM foods
consumption of HFCS
adoption of WIFI
usage of cell phones
construction of cell phone towers

MGraser
5 / 5 (1) Sep 03, 2008
You've got increasing problems at home/broken families, increasing tensions/violence in the schools, some parents aren't available because of long work hours or other causes, the news always reports depressing info. Kids are living in a world where they have 24/7 access to information, friends, resources they shouldn't. I imagine that it all contributes in a time of their lives when their most unstable anyway. It would be nice if we weren't 3 years behind on data, though. It's hard to respond to a "crisis" that may have occurred several years ago.
agg
not rated yet Sep 03, 2008

This is one of the first generations to deal with extreme parental pressuring. Parents used to do adult things and children used to do kid things. Now, adults schedule children's activities. They get squeezed from all directions and when they strain and lose their shape then wham, slam them back in line with some prescription drugs.
DoctorKnowledge
not rated yet Sep 04, 2008
It's going to be many factors, we all agree. What gets to me is that the pharmaceutical companies would like us to believe that as much as possible of it is a "disorder" that can be treated with their drugs. Depressed because terrorists are near to getting nuclear weapons? Worried about global warming? Rapid animal extinction on your mind? Don't worry: take a "mood stabilizer". And I'm not speaking hypothetically, I've had plenty of friends who take that stuff, and suddenly, the problems don't seem so bad, anymore. Of course, of course there are people who really need those drugs, but there are lots and lots who do not. Being depressed...sometimes is the RIGHT reaction. And we need to protect our teens with more than just drugs.
Velanarris
not rated yet Sep 08, 2008
The number one contributing factor to teen suicide in America, lack of parenting.

Do a comparison between the number of teens with a parent at home and the number of teens with no parents home or broken homes where the only authority figure has to work a schedule preventing them from spending time with their children.

Children need attention from time to time and the teenage years are the most crucial time of development after the infant years. If you don't give teenagers some attention, even just a simple "good job" from time to time they lose faith in themselves and in turn do not value their life as most people do.