NEWS about Suicide

On 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.


October, 2017


Hughes pushes campus suicide prevention bills in Senate

More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from all medical illnesses combined, according to the National Database on Campus Suicide and Depression.

Also, one in 12 American college students makes a suicide plan and, each day, approximately 80 U.S. citizens take their own life and 1,500 more attempt to do so, according to the database.

When considering that suicide remains the second leading cause of death among 20 to 24-year-olds and the problems realized when contemplating a host of other sobering but related statistics, it all has helped to motivate State Sen. Vincent Hughes who’s leading a push to provide more on campus assistance through two bills that currently sit in the Capital.

The Philadelphia Democrat has proposed SB 886 and SB 330, which combined would provide more of a safe haven and direction for students on the edge.

The Philadelphia Tribune, October 14, 2017


Why Are More American Teenagers Than Ever Suffering From Severe Anxiety?

Parents, therapists and schools are struggling to figure out whether helping anxious teenagers means protecting them or pushing them to face their fears.

The disintegration of Jake’s life took him by surprise. It happened early in his junior year of high school, while he was taking three Advanced Placement classes, running on his school’s cross-country team and traveling to Model United Nations conferences. It was a lot to handle, but Jake — the likable, hard-working oldest sibling in a suburban North Carolina family — was the kind of teenager who handled things. Though he was not prone to boastfulness, the fact was he had never really failed at anything.

Not coincidentally, failure was one of Jake’s biggest fears. He worried about it privately; maybe he couldn’t keep up with his peers, maybe he wouldn’t succeed in life. The relentless drive to avoid such a fate seemed to come from deep inside him. He considered it a strength.

Jake’s parents knew he could be high-strung; in middle school, they sent him to a therapist when he was too scared to sleep in his own room. But nothing prepared them for the day two years ago when Jake, then 17, seemingly “ran 150 miles per hour into a brick wall,” his mother said. He refused to go to school and curled up in the fetal position on the floor. “I just can’t take it!” he screamed. “You just don’t understand!”

The New York Times, October 11, 2017

 


In New Hampshire, suicide stressors are abundant

Jeremy Hannan wishes he could ask his son Triston a question.

Why did the 15-year-old, a Concord High School student with good looks, an outgoing personality and a deep connection to others, take his life last month?

“What caused him to do something so heinous to himself?” Hannan asked. “What was that one piece that was missing?”

Hannan may never find out why his son became one of the hundreds of New Hampshire residents who die each year by suicide, leaving behind a grieving family, friends and a trail of unanswered questions.

But those who study suicide and want to help suffering families are trying to identify trends in what causes people to take their own lives – and how tragedies like Triston’s death can be prevented.

Most who are considering suicide exhibit warning signs, experts say. More than 90 percent of those who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental health disorder, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Concord Monitor, October 9, 2017


Knox County data on teen depression, suicide is ‘screaming’ for community’s attention

One in three Knox County public high school students said they felt sad and hopeless for two weeks in a row or more — enough to stop their normal activities — at least once last year.

Eleven percent — or about one in nine children — said they tried to kill themselves.

That data, part of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey released this month by Knox County Health Department, is “screaming to get our attention,” said Ben Harrington, director of the nonprofit Mental Health Association of East Tennessee. “If kids are experiencing mental health issues, then we need to, as a community, respond. That means we should be doing more to intervene earlier with kids in our community, and the community needs to be prepared to help.”

Knoxville News Sentinel, October 6, 2017


Americans living in rural areas more likely to die by suicide

Suicide rates in the United States have been rising sharply in recent decades, and Americans living in certain areas of the country are more at risk than others, according to new research.

A report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that people living in rural areas of the U.S. are more likely to die by suicide than those living in urban areas.

“While we’ve seen many causes of death come down in recent years, suicide rates have increased more than 20 percent from 2001 to 2015. And this is especially concerning in rural areas,” CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., said in a statement. “We need proven prevention efforts to help stop these deaths and the terrible pain and loss they cause.”

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. During the study period from 2001 to 2015, more than a half million suicides occurred across the country.

CBS News, October 5, 2017


Mallory Grossman’s parents want bullies held accountable in daughter’s suicide

The parents of Mallory Grossman want the bullies who tormented their 12-year-old daughter, causing her to commit suicide, to be held accountable.

Dianne and Seth Grossman appeared on the ‘Megyn Kelly Today’ show Thursday morning to share their story as part of National Bullying Prevention Awareness month. 

Mallory took her own life on June 14 following about nine months of bullying from several classmates, her parents have said. In August, the Grossmans announced their intention to sue the school district, alleging it was grossly negligent for allegedly failing to address the bullying of their daughter.

Dianne Grossman told Kelly she thinks the girls who bullied her daughter need “to be held accountable and understand the magnitude of what they did.”

“I think that those girls should spend the rest of their lives (doing) community service to really understand, and they should dedicate their lives just as we’ve done,” Grossman said.

NJ.com, October 5, 2017


State Suicide Rate Continues To Increase, Latest Mass. Data Show

The state’s suicide rate continued a decade-long trend and increased 3 percent in 2015, the most recent year for which data are available. The suicide rate for women saw an uptick as compared with 2014, while the rate among men stayed the same.

There were 631 suicides in Massachusetts in 2015, compared with 608 in 2014, according to data from the state’s Department of Public Health. That represents an increase in the suicide rate from 9.0 (per 100,000) to 9.3 (per 100,000).

Suicide statistics released at the state level and nationally by the Centers for Disease Control routinely lag two to three years behind, at least partly because of the length of time it can take to confirm whether certain deaths were intentional or unintentional.

In 2015, 163 women and girls killed themselves. That compares to 140 the year before (an increase in the suicide rate for females from 4.0 to 4.7 per 100,000). The biggest increase was among women ages 45 to 54.

WBUR 90.9, October 3, 2017


Sen. Hatch’s suicide prevention bill advances

Senator Orrin Hatch issued a statement Wednesday morning, after the Senate Commerce Committee voted to advance his critical suicide prevention legislation.

““Over the last year, I’ve met with countless families who have lost loved ones to suicide,” Hatch said. “The parents I spoke with said that in their moments of crisis, they didn’t know where to turn for help. While there is no perfect solution to this devastating problem, I believe this legislation will help.”

The bill aims to provide people suffering with faster, easier access to life saving resources.

Hatch’s bill would create an easy-to-remember 3-digit suicide hotline, similar to 911. This resource would connect those in peril to crisis resources, such as the 24/7 CrisisLine call center that Senator Hatch recently visited in Utah.

KUTV, October 3, 2017


Suicide attempt survivor: ‘Silence is harmful’

As a teenager, Erica Smith felt completely disconnected from her peers. She felt like they were easily enjoying life, and she wasn’t able to enjoy anything at all. She was feeling shame, anxiety, fear and exhaustion.

Smith had experienced sexual trauma in middle school and high school. She received support afterward, but then people quit checking on her and she didn’t talk about it.

“I felt like what happened to me wasn’t a big enough deal to warrant the feelings that I was having,” she said. “I felt ashamed about what happened and how much it was impacting me. I felt like everyone else in my life had moved on and I needed to, but I couldn’t.”

The Lawrence Journal-World, October 1, 2017


September, 2017


Experts speak about teen suicide following student’s death

A community is in mourning after the apparent suicide of a Destin teenager.

A family friend found 14-year-old Connor Bartlett’s body near Destin’s west jetty about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday after a search involving several law enforcement agencies.

Connor, a freshman at Fort Walton Beach High School, was a Destin Middle School graduate and an outstanding high school and club team swimmer.

Grief counselors were at Fort Walton Beach on Wednesday to help students deal with the loss of their classmate. Students wore blue — Connor’s favorite color — to honor him.

In dealing with the young man’s death, experts on suicide prevention are speaking out to help parents and friends better understand the circumstances that can lead to suicide.

Q92 Radio, September 30, 2017


The Media’s Role in ‘Suicide Clusters’

In the late 18th century, a deadly outbreak plagued most of Europe and resulted in an eerie trend of suicides. The culprit: a story. It was during the German Sturm and Drang literary movement that Johann Wolfgang von Goethe wrote The Sorrows of Young Werther, a semi-autobiographical novel about a young hero who commits suicide to escape the woes induced by unrequited love. Upon its publication, a strain of “Werther Fever” surfaced; many readers suddenly dressed like Werther and wrote diaries like Werther, and several others ended their lives like Werther. This phenomenon will later be coined as the “Werther Effect” or a “suicide cluster,” which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention defines as a chain of three or more completed suicides, often triggered by one well-publicized suicide.

The Advocate, September 29, 2017


OPI to Offer New Online Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Resources for Teachers

The Office of Public Instruction’s Teacher Learning Hub will now offer Montana teachers a program called “At-Risk: Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Role-Play Simulations”. This is being provided to the Learning Hub through the Project AWARE-MT SOARS grant funding. The project is a 12-month unlimited license contract with Kognito Interactive Programs. These courses will be available to all Montana educators, school staff, and OPI partners through the Learning Hub.

“Montana is a large, rural state with some of the highest youth suicide rates in the country. It is critical that educators not only have resources to promote mental health for our students, but that they have access to these resources regardless of where they are in our state,” said Superintendent Arntzen.

Montana.gov, September 28, 2017


‘I wanted to break the stigma’: Woman’s post about ‘looking suicidal’ goes viral

7_hours_before_Suicide_Attempt.jpeg

“This photo was taken just 7 hours before I tried to take my own life for the 3rd time. This photo was taken in the morning, we went for a walk and for some food with Eli. We laughed and enjoyed our time. That evening I took an overdose that left me in hospital for a week.”

When Milly Smith was a teen, she went to a doctor and admitted she thought about killing herself. But the doctor dismissed her by saying Smith didn’t “look suicidal.”

“It took a ton of courage to go there and I was in a very vulnerable state,” Smith, 24, of Hull, England, told TODAY via email. “I was crushed and felt invalidated and alone.”

The Today Show, September 26, 2017


How Teens Are Helping Other Teens With Suicide Prevention

It took two suicide attempts before a Colorado Springs teen found a reason to live and began to wonder, “What if teens hold the answer to the youth suicide problem in Colorado?”

But it was a long road before that question led to a much bigger purpose for Macy Rae Klein.

“As parents, they want to fix things. They want to kiss the wounds, they want to give Band-Aides … but with depression, you can’t just put a Band-Aid on it,” said Macy Rae, 16.

Macy Rae was only in 6th grade when her depression hit and in 7th grade when she began making plans to end her life.

“I couldn’t walk past things like bridges or sharp things without thinking how I could use it to end my life,” said Macy Rae.

CBS Denver News 4, September 25, 2017


The S Word – A Documentary about Suicide Attempt Survivors

A suicide attempt survivor is on a mission to find fellow survivors and document their stories of unguarded courage, insight and humor. She discovers a national community rising to transform personal struggles into action.

Bring THE S WORD To Your Community!

Organize a local screening of THE S WORD and gather your campus, community members and colleagues to watch the film and help raise awareness for suicide prevention. Organizers across the country are hosting grassroots events and we invite you to join them. Please note, a screening license is required for all public events and packages include a Q&A with director Lisa Klein.

“The S Word has the potential to do more for suicide prevention in one year than I have in my career. We can all learn from this film.” – William Schmitz, Jr., Psy.D, Past President, American Association of Suicidology

“The film tells untold stories in profound and original ways. It offers hope, but not by whitewashing the complexities of the lives it chronicles.  It is frank and unstinting, and beautifully filmed, too.  An important work of art.” – Andrew Solomon, New York Times Bestselling Author

The S Word, September 26, 2017


Teenage suicide is extremely difficult to predict. That’s why some experts are turning to machines for help.

In any given week, Ben Crotte, a behavioral health therapist at Children’s Home of Cincinnati, speaks to dozens of students in need of an outlet.

Their challenges run the adolescent gamut, from minor stress about an upcoming test to severe depression, social isolation and bullying.

Amid the flood of conversations, meetings and paperwork, the challenge for Crotte — and mental health professionals everywhere — is separating hopeless expressions of pain and suffering from crucial warning signs that suggest a student is at risk for taking their own life.

It’s a daunting, high-pressure task, which explains why Crotte was willing to add another potentially useful tool to his diagnostic kit: an app that uses an algorithm to analyze speech and determine whether someone is likely to take their own life.

It’s name: “Spreading Activation Mobile” or “SAM.”

The Washington Post, September 26, 2017


7 EV teen suicides in 6 weeks alarm schools

Seven East Valley teenagers committed suicide during a six-week period earlier this summer, creating a disturbing suicide cluster and a grassroots effort to do everything possible to prevent additional deaths.

The unusual suicide cluster included six boys and a girl ranging from 13 to 18 years old. Six victims hanged themselves and one death was by shooting. The deaths started on July 24 and ended on Labor Day weekend.

The teens lived within 10 to 12 miles of each other. They did not know each other, but one boy knew another boy who killed himself in May.

The victims – who lived in Chandler, Gilbert and Queen Creek – were described as high-achieving students with plenty of friends who might not fit the preconceived notion of a teen likely to commit suicide.

East Valley Tribune, September 24, 2017


Robert E. Lee HS student commits suicide after bullying

An East Texas family reached past their pain to help others just two days after 16-year-old Dylan Alvarado committed suicide due to bullying.

Alvarado was a student at Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler. He died Monday, Sept. 18. and is the second teen in East Texas to commit suicide in less than two weeks.

Alvarado’s mother, Kelly Ellis, is a nurse, a mother and the newest member of a growing group no one wants to be a part of.

Like so many nurses and mothers, she tried to be strong.

“I’m okay,” she said, as her eyes filled with tears. “Not really. To be honest, my heart’s in a million pieces. All the bullying at school has been affecting his emotional state.”

CBS19, September 22, 2017


Aurora teacher’s heartfelt lesson: Suicide is always preventable

Mary Kay Gleason doesn’t usually tell her students her family’s story of suicide loss so early in the school year.

They’re only in seventh grade, so she wants to gauge their maturity. And with the loss so fresh, she’s struggled to keep her emotions in check.

But this time, nearly three years after her daughter Kelsie took her own life at age 24, the teacher at Fischer Middle School in Aurora felt ready to speak sooner. And for good reason: The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention says suicide was the second-leading cause of death statewide last year among people ages 10-14 and 15-34.

“That’s you guys,” school psychologist Jake Rebus told students.

The Daily Herald, September 21, 2017


Teens risk suicide, drugs and AIDS due to gender “straitjacket”: study

Gender stereotypes put girls as young as 10 at risk of HIV/AIDS and depression, and lead boys to abuse drugs and commit suicide, a major study across 15 countries said on Wednesday.

Children around the world – in liberal and conservative cultures – internalize damaging beliefs that boys are aggressive troublemakers, while vulnerable girls need protection, at a much younger age than previously thought, the research found.

“Before this study, there was a general belief that at 10 or 11 years of age, (adolescents) were not clued into any issues around gender norms and values,” Robert Blum, director of the Johns Hopkins Urban Health Institute, said.

“Young adolescents do not live in the world of childhood… they live in a transitional era where they’re acutely aware of what’s going on,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Reuters, September 20, 2017


Life-Saving Post-ER Suicide Prevention Strategies are Cost Effective – Follow-up postcards less expensive, more effective than usual care: NIH study

Three interventions designed for follow up of patients who are identified with suicide risk in hospital emergency departments save lives and are cost effective relative to usual care. A study led by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) modelled the use of the approaches in emergency departments and found that all three interventions compare favorably with a standard benchmark of cost-effectiveness used in evaluating healthcare costs.

One intervention, sending caring postcards or letters following an emergency visit, is more effective and less expensive than usual care. The report appears in the September 15 issue of the journal Psychiatric Services.

National Institute of Mental Health, September 15, 2017


How To Talk To Your College-Age Kids About Depression And Suicide

School’s back in session, and parents ushering kids to college for the first time will undoubtedly deliver some emotional nuggets of advice. But they should also have a potentially life-saving talk with their kids in the first semester of college to avert a possible tragedy — suicide.

In my experience as a child and adolescent psychiatrist, parents can be naïve about both the academic and social pressures kids face in college. While we’re confident that our children will flourish and excel, it’s also important to equip them with information on the mental health challenges some college students encounter. 

Per the American College Health Association, one-third of college-aged students report being depressed to the point of being unable to function. In his book, “College of the Overwhelmed,” Harvard psychiatrist Richard Kadison says that 1 in 10 students will seriously consider suicide.

WBUR 90.9, September 13, 2017


Suicide Attempts On the Rise in US, Finds Study – Highest risk seen in socioeconomically disadvantaged young adults with mental disorders

New data confirm that suicide attempts among U.S. adults are on the rise, with a disproportional effect on younger, socioeconomically disadvantaged adults with a history of mental disorders.  

The study, by researchers at Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) and New York State Psychiatric Institute (NYSPI), was published today in JAMA Psychiatry.

“Attempted suicide is the strongest risk factor for suicide, so it’s important that clinicians know just who faces the highest risk so that we can do a better job of preventing suicides from happening,” said Mark Olfson, MD, MPH, professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at CUMC and lead author of the study.

Columbia University Medical Center, September 13, 2017


Lawsuit Over a Suicide Points to a Risk of Antidepressants

The last dinner Wendy Dolin had with her husband, Stewart, he was so agitated that he was jiggling his leg under the table and could barely sit still. He had recently started a new antidepressant but still felt very anxious. “I don’t get it, Wen,” he said.

The next day, Mr. Dolin, a 57-year-old Chicago lawyer, paced up and down a train platform for several minutes and then threw himself in front of an oncoming train.

Ms. Dolin soon became convinced that the drug her husband had started taking five days before his death — paroxetine, the generic form of Paxil — played a role in his suicide by triggering a side effect called akathisia, a state of acute physical and psychological agitation. Sufferers have described feeling as if they were “jumping out of their skin.”

The distress of akathisia may explain the heightened risk of suicide in some patients, some psychiatrists believe. The symptoms are so distressing, a drug company scientist wrote in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, that patients may feel “death is a welcome result.”

The New York Times, September 11, 2017


Teen Girls With Smartphones Flirt Most With Depression and Suicide

A spike in the teen suicide rate parallels almost exactly the rise of smartphone use, especially among teen girls, who are the most vulnerable to cyberbullying and alienation.

On Instagram, Snapchat, and via text, the messages wouldn’t stop coming to 12-year-old Mallory Grossman’s phone. She was a loser with no friends, they wrote. One message even said, “Why don’t you kill yourself?”

Not long afterward, the 6th grader did just that, committing suicide on June 14, 2017.

Mallory’s story is a tragic part of a larger trend shaping today’s generation of teens and young adults, the post-Millennials born after 1995 whom I call iGen and describe in my book of the same name. Around 2012, more teens in large national surveys started to say they felt hopeless and useless—classic symptoms of depression. In a large, government-funded study designed to screen for mental health issues, the number of teens with clinical-level depression rose substantially between 2011 and 2015. Most troubling, the child and teen suicide rate increased sharply.

Daily Beast, September 9, 2017


Newport-Mesa is taking the lead on working to prevent teen suicides

Children committing suicide is the last thing any of us wants to think about.

But we must, for what has been called a silent epidemic is real. Every day, on average, thousands of young people try to kill themselves.

Suicide is the second-leading cause of death among 10-to-24-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More teenagers and young adults die from suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia, influenza and chronic lung disease combined.

There are indications that the problem is getting worse. The number of children aged 5 to 17 who were admitted to children’s hospitals because of thoughts of suicide or self-harm more than doubled between 2008 and 2015, according to research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting in San Francisco in May.

Every year in Orange County alone, about 700 youth aged 10 to 19 years old require medical treatment because of self-inflicted injuries. It’s estimated that 2% die from the injuries.

Looking away and doing nothing is not an option.

Los Angeles Times, September 5, 2017


Two student suicides in two days, both following social media posts, leave Littleton community seeking answers – Arapahoe County has had eight teen suicides already this year

In the twilight, they pointed the lights of their cellphones toward the students in the center of the circle. They numbered in the hundreds, gathered in a grassy park on a school night through the power of Snapchat.

They’ve done this at least twice before when they lost friends to suicide, but this time, the loss in Littleton was double: two teen suicides in two days. Sitting on the grass as night fell, they took turns rushing to the center to remember their friends, to hug and cry, to shout and swear, and to plead for no more deaths.

On Tuesday night, an Arapahoe High School junior took his own life by jumping off a mall parking garage, and on Wednesday night, another Littleton School District student, an eighth-grader at Powell Middle School, shot himself on the grounds of nearby Twain Elementary. Both boys posted on social media just before their deaths, panicking friends who tried to help but could not save them.

The Denver Post, September 1, 2017


More teenagers commit suicide on this day in Japan than any other day of the year

Going back to school is extremely tough for a lot of Japanese students, and this can be clearly seen in the country’s suicide statistics.

In Japan, more people under the age of 18 commit suicide on Sept. 1 than any other date, according to a 2015 government white paper examining 40 years of data. The government attributed the reason to the mental pressures that students face adjusting to school life after a particularly long break. The anxiety of teens going back to school is so pervasive that there’s a Japanese term to describe them: futoko, or “people who don’t go to school.”

Quartz, September 1, 2017


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



 

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

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.  


 

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.


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