Current treatment for teens that struggle with mental disorders and thoughts of suicide doesn't appear to be helping according to a new study. Adolescents need a more intuitive treatment plan and for the most part, that's not what they are getting.
The Harvard study found that around 1 in every 8 U.S. teens have thought about suicide and nearly 1 in 25 either made plans to or actually attempted suicide.
Researchers collected data on suicidal behaviors from 6,500 teenagers, aged 13 to 18. They also had the teen's parents fill out questionnaires.
Just over 12 percent of the teens said they had thought about suicide and 4 percent said they had created a plan or attempted suicide.
"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 in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Researchers found that almost all the teens who had thought about or attempted suicide had a mental disorder including, but not limited to, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD or abused alcohol or drugs.
While 89 percent of the teens were in treatment for various mental disorders, researchers discovered that 55 percent didn't start their suicidal behavior until after treatment began.
Mental health professionals are not simply meeting with adolescents in response to their suicidal thoughts or behaviors, the authors said.
Nock also noted that the results were both encouraging and disturbing.
"We know that a lot of the kids who are at risk and thinking about suicide are getting (treatment)," he told Reuters Health. However, "We don't know how to stop them - we don't have any evidence-based treatments for suicidal behavior."
Nock believes that treatment is important for teens that have mental disorders or may be having thoughts of suicide, but that treatment needs to be better.
I have been saddened by the recent suicide of a young man in our community. It is still hard for me to fathom that parents I know have suffered through the loss of their child from suicide. There are really no words for the shock and grief that is felt on so many levels.
Unfortunately, teen suicide is not as uncommon as you might think. Each year, there are thousands of teens that commit suicide. Suicides are the 3rd leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds. In 2000, the CDC reported 1 out of 12 teens attempts suicide and up to 1 in 5 teens state that they have contemplated suicide at some point during their adolescent years. The statistics also show that the incidence of teen suicide has been increasing over the last years, which seems to correlate with the mounting pressures, both real and perceived, that our youth feel. As an adult I think "what could be that terrible to drive a teen to end their life when so much lies ahead of them?. But a teen's brain is not fully developed, and as any parent with a teen knows, teenagers are often impulsive with little thought of the true consequences of their actions.
Teen suicides are usually related to depression, anxiety, confusion and the feeling that life is not worth living. An event such as a break up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, substance abuse, or failure at school may lead to suicide.
There are also gender differences among teens who commit suicide. Teen girls are more likely to attempt suicide than teen boys. With that being said, teen boys are more likely to complete a suicide. Girls are more likely to use an overdose of drugs to attempt suicide while boys are more likely to shoot themselves. While a girl may use an overdose or cutting as call for help, there is often little opportunity for intervention with a male who sustains a self inflicted gun shot or may even hang themselves. Male suicide attempts are typically more violent