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Teen Suicides Increasing

posted 07:00 AM EST, Thu September 04, 2008
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Teen Suicides Increasing © Foraggio Fotographic

For the second consecutive year, researchers have observed a sudden dramatic increase in suicides among American teenagers. Alarmed doctors and parents are now looking for answers.

After a decade of steadily declining rates since 1996, the number of suicides among American teenagers (under 20 years of age) increased by 18 percent.

Joel Greenhouse, PhD, Professor of Statistics at Carnegie Mellon University, urged the community to focus on the risk factors associated with the increase in pediatric suicide.

Several factors need to be considered in identifying the underlying causes. Among them the influence of internet social networks, increase in suicide among young military personnel and higher rates of untreated depression in the wake of recent “black box” warnings on antidepressants – a possible unintended consequence of the medication warnings required by the Federal Drug Administration in 2004. The number of kids prescribed anti-depressants has dropped by as much as 20 percent following concerns over possible side effects.

To date, 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. According to John Campo, MD, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, “the vast majority of young people who complete suicide have some sort of psychiatric disorder. Most commonly depression or some mood disorder.”

Researchers also want to look into the role the internet plays and if it has an influence on the number of teenagers committing suicide.


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