#JamesDonaldson On #MentalHealth – #SuicideRates Among U.S. #Adolescents Doubled In 10 Years


By HealthDay

#SuicideRates Among U.S. #Adolescents Doubled in 10 Years

By Amy Norton HealthDay Reporter


(HealthDay News) — #Suicides among the youngest U.S. #teenagers were rising for years before the #pandemic  with #school #stress, #socialmedia and guns standing as potential factors, according to a new study.

Researchers found that between 2008 and 2018, the #suiciderate among 13- and 14-year-olds nationwide more than doubled  from roughly two deaths per 100,000 #teens in 2008, to five per 100,000 a decade later.

It was a stark reversal of a decline that began in the late-1990s.

And, in fact, #suicide is now the leading cause of death for 13- and 14-year-olds in the #UnitedStates, said senior researcher Dr. Sarah Wood, a professor of #pediatrics at Florida Atlantic University’s Schmidt College of Medicine.

The study — published online recently in the Annals of #Pediatrics and #Child Health — comes amid growing concerns about U.S. #kids’ #mental well-being. For years, studies have been charting rising rates of #depression, #anxiety, and #suicidalthoughts and #behavior. And the latest government surveys of U.S. #highschoolstudents continue to paint a bleak picture.

“In my mind, this study is another warning bell,” Wood said. “Things are not improving. They’re getting worse.”

Much has been said about the #pandemic’s effects on #kids’ #mentalhealth. And while that’s true, the #pandemic added to problems that have long existed, said Joseph Feinglass, a research professor at Northwestern University Feinberg #School of Medicine, in Chicago.

Feinglass, who was not involved in the study, said the new research highlights that grim fact. The bigger question, he said, is what can be done about it?

“I’ve been thinking a lot about what could be driving this,” Feinglass said. In a 2022 study, he and his colleagues found that in Illinois, #kids’ emergency room visits for #suicidalthoughts rose by 59% between 2016 and 2021  with a sharp spike in 2019, pre-#pandemic.

#James Donaldson notes:
Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.
Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.
Having gone through a recent bout of #depression and #suicidalthoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.
Find out more about the work I do on my 501c3 non-profit foundation
website www.yourgiftoflife.org                            Order your copy of James Donaldson’s latest book,
From The Verge of Suicide to a Life of Purpose and Joy


Feinglass said he thinks kids’ heavy use of #socialmedia is part of the story, though only one factor.

Wood agreed. That’s in part because of the timing of the reversal in young #teenagers’ #suiciderates. Before 2008, the study found, that rate was waning  from about 2.3 deaths per 100,000 in 1999, to 1.5 per 100,000 in 2007. That was followed by a sudden, and unrelenting, rise  increasing by 2.5 times between 2008 and 2018.

According to Wood’s team, the pattern suggests a role for #socialmedia, as sites like #Facebook, #YouTube and #Twitter launched between 2004 and 2006. That was later followed by apps like #Instagram and #SnapChat, which have become wildly popular among #teens.

Past studies, Wood said, have linked heavy #socialmedia use to heightened risks of distress and #depression in #kids.

There are various possible reasons, both researchers said. #Socialmedia may be worsening #bullying, causing #kids to constantly compare themselves with others, exposing them to all kinds of negative messages, and pulling their attention to a screen instead of their real lives.

But there is almost certainly no single culprit to blame.

Feinglass pointed to the bigger context: “I think there’s something very toxic going on in #American society.”

He noted that 2008 also marked the economic downturn and housing crisis that was especially rough on young families with #children. When #parents are under strain, their #kids feel it, too.

At the same time, Feinglass said, the nation has seen “rapidly rising tensions” and open hostility between liberal and conservative, a worsening #opioid epidemic, #massshootings and other cultural issues that can give #kids “a sense that the future is not bright.”

And the ubiquitous smartphone may expose #kids to the bad side of life in a way that past generations were not.

“#Socialmedia may amplify this message that the world is a terrible place,” Feinglass said.

Meanwhile, the study found certain other patterns, too. One was related to geography, with #suiciderates being higher in #ruralareas than in big cities, specifically when it came to firearm deaths: There are 2.3 such deaths per 100,000 in #ruralareas, versus 1.6 per 100,000 in large cities.

Wood said that raises questions about #gun access in #rural parts of the country  though, she added, poor #mentalhealth would still be at the heart of the problem.

The researchers also found that young #teens’ #suiciderates spiked during the school year and dropped off in the summer, suggesting that #school #stress may be a factor.

Feinglass saw the same pattern in his recent study. It could be partly related to #bullying, but #kids these days also face a lot of academic pressure, he noted. They hear the message that they need to graduate #college to have a good life  to a degree that past generations did not.

Wood agreed that #kids today face stressors.

“I think we tend to be a ‘type A,’ achievement-oriented society,” she said. “But we also need to let #kids be #kids.”

Although studies paint a grim picture, Wood also pointed out that #teen #suicide remains relatively rare. She sees findings like these as a way to raise awareness and “mobilize us.”

Both researchers said schools are a prime place to intervene. That, Feinglass said, should include encouraging #kids to look out for each other, and speak up if they notice a friend is “down and out.”

For #parents, Wood emphasized the importance of spending time with your #kids and showing them they can talk to you.

“We need to let them know that we’re here for them, and we’re listening,” she said.

More information

The #AmericanFoundationforSuicidePrevention has advice for #parents.