David Earl Johnson, LICSW

3 minute read

The CDC has released a report finding a spike in successful suicides in adolescents in 2004. This increase is the largest increase since 1990. Is this the result of all the misinformation floating around anti-depressant medications causing suicide and violence in adolescents and adults? Thats about when the hullabaloo started. So that means that the increase in suicides may continue into 2007, four years of increased suicide caused by misinformation in the media. It would appear that media sources who print information on such volatile topics need to consult with professionals before doing so. Perhaps even more importantly, researchers need to be obtaining peer review of their research before going to the media. It’s become routine that new research authors send out news releases on topics that will attract media attention. I’m sure part of this is a survival method to make sure the research sponsor benefits from the research and funds them further. But the consequences of such releases need to be carefully considered. Note that the research process on the risks of anti-depressants have unequivocally documented that the risk of anti-depressants is less than the risk of not prescribing. And don’t forget that there is also a first line of defense against depression, called psychotherapy. It’s harder to face our problems with others, and sometimes more expensive. But it must be done. Bloomberg.com.

“Suicides among children and young adults in the U.S. rose 8 percent in 2004, the largest single- year increase since 1990, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. The biggest percentage jumps were recorded among girls aged 10 to 19, and boys aged 15 to 19, according to a survey released by the agency today. Suicide accounted for 4,599 deaths in 2004, making it the third-leading killer among Americans ages 10 to 24, behind car crashes and homicides, the research found. The report, part of an annual analysis by the Atlanta-based CDC, didn’t identify a reason for the increase. It found girls mainly hung or suffocated themselves, and that guns remained the primary method used by boys. The rate among Americans ages 10 through 24 had fallen 28 percent since 1990, making the current rise particularly concerning, health officials said. [..] One possible reason for the increase may be that doctors are reluctant to prescribe antidepressant drugs to children because of warnings about side effects, said Mark Riddle, director of the division of child and adolescent psychiatry at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. “It’s probably reluctance on the part of clinicians to identify and treat kids with depression,” he said in a telephone interview. “We know that any treatment for depression in teenagers is quite effective in reducing suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. When you take away one of the treatments, you are just leaving more kids vulnerable for trouble.” [..]An earlier study by CDC researchers found many students in the U.S. regularly contemplate suicide. In that survey, 17 percent of high school students said they “seriously considered” killing themselves in the previous 12 months and 13 percent actually devised a suicide plan. Nearly 1 in 10 said they actually tried to take their own life.”

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