Suicide Rates In Children

Teen suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents. More teens die from suicide each year than from cancer. A new study shows many doctors aren’t doing enough to recognize the warning signs.

Larry’s daughter committed suicide. He says, “In the note, Abby said that when she saw the gun, she thought it was a gift from God. She had been depressed for years, had attempted suicide twice before. When we came home, we found that Abby had completed suicide.”

Abby was 17 years old.

Larry remembers, “I’ve never felt more empty before or after.”

Since his daughter’s suicide, Larry has been on a crusade to learn and teach others about depression.

“We did many things to try and help our child overcome what we thought was shyness because we were uneducated about the signs of depression,” says Larry.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, Md., surveyed more than 8,000 pediatricians. Forty-seven percent said one or more patients attempted suicide last year. Yet, only 23 percent of the pediatricians say they screen patients for suicide risk.

Leader of the study. “We know that once we get kids into treatment that the odds of helping them are very, very good,” she says.

Doctors can play a critical role in screening for depression. Pediatricians, for example, could do a great deal by routinely distributing questionnaires or survey forms in their waiting rooms that ask the teenagers about their mood and about whether they’ve been thinking about suicide because teenagers will tell them.

Treatment often includes medication and psychotherapy. Abby’s parents never knew she even needed that treatment.

If you suspect someone is depressed, tell a loved one or medical professional about your concerns.

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