Teen Suicide Rate Worries Experts

A new report has found that one in 25 teenagers in the US has attempted suicide and one in eight has thought about it.

The Daily Mail is reporting that the study, conducted at Harvard University, was based on face-to-face interviews with almost 6,500 teens, and questionnaires filled out by their parents. Teens were asked about whether or not they ever thought about, planned or attempted suicide. They were also asked questions that could help to determine those who might be suffering from a range of mental disorders.

Overall, the study found that just over 12 percent of youth had thought about suicide while four percent made a plan and four percent actually attempted to end their life.

“What adults say is, the highest risk time for first starting to think about suicide is in adolescence,” said Matthew Nock, a psychologist who worked on the study at Harvard University.

Almost all of the teens who thought about or attempted suicide had a mental disorder of some kind, ranging from depression to bipolar disorder, or had a problem with drug and alcohol abuse. Even more worrying was that more than half of these youth were already in treatment when they reported suicidal behavior. Although it’s good that so many teens are getting treatment, it doesn’t appear to be preventing suicidal tendencies.

“We know that a lot of the kids who are at risk and thinking about suicide are getting (treatment),” Nock said, but added: “We don’t know how to stop them – we don’t have any evidence-based treatments for suicidal behavior.”

Because most youth who think about suicide never go on to attempt it, the results of the study point to a need for doctors to become better at discerning which teens are most at risk. They will also need to determine better ways to treat them because current methods don’t seem to be working.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is now the third leading cause of death for people between the ages of ten and 24.

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