Study: Teen suicide rates remain abnormally high

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WHAS11.com

Posted on August 15, 2009 at 6:39 PM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 13 at 4:13 PM

Sixteen-year-old Jason Flatt loved music and football. He seemed completely normal until the day he took his own life. Jason Flatt's father now educates parents.

"Can't tell you how many times I said, 'saw those things, concerned, but never took time to act,'" said Clark Flatt, Jason's father and CEO of the Jason Foundation.

Jason is one of 100 teenagers who commit suicide in the U.S. every week. This new study from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Ohio shows the trend is not reversing.

"Suddenly in 2004 we see the sharpest increase in the past 15 years and it appears that it's persisting into 2005," said Jeffrey Bridge, the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital.

2005 is the most recent year that the numbers are available and they don't look promising. That was about the same time period the FDA first put a black box warning on anti-depressants. Since then, prescriptions have dropped by as much as 20 percent, prompting concerns that some depressed kids who need those drugs aren't getting them. Researchers wonder if alcohol social networking sites or even war, for older teens, could be to blame.

"Every time there's a pediatric suicide we need to be asking ourselves 'What went wrong, what could we have done differently?" said Dr. John Campo, Nationwide Children's Hospital.

The federal government has been running public announcements, hoping teens will be on the lookout for friends in trouble. Warning signs include: current talk about suicide, giving away prized possessions, increased alcohol and /or drug use, taking unnecessary risks and a perception that there is no one to talk to.

The study compared older and younger teens, boys and girls, and found no difference. All groups are equally at risk.

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