Wednesday, August 15, 2012

CDC Examines Teen Suicides

When the number of suicides among adolescents and young adults in two counties in southern Delaware spiked, health authorities called in experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Eleven young people died by suicide between January and May 2012, compared with the previous yearly average of four. The most common means of death were hanging, followed by self-inflicted gunshot wound, consistent with national patterns, wrote Katherine Fowler, Ph.D., in the CDC report on the investigation.

Risk factors for these suicides included mental health problems (7); recent problem between decedent and parent(s) (5); legal problems (5); problems with boyfriend or girlfriend (4); substance use (4); academic problems (3); left a note, called someone, or texted about suicide (3); recent problem with peers (2); or the decedent was a sexual minority (2).

Every case had at least two of these risk factors, and more than half had at least five. The CDC recommended periodic mental health awareness training to identify youth at risk, expanded community and educational programs for young people, and a review of evidence-based suicide prevention strategies aimed at youth.

Read more risk factors linked to adolescent suicide in Psychiatric News here.

(Image: T. Anderson/