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Teen Suicide Is on the Rise. Thoughtful Treatment is Necessary.

Stephanie Doupnik, a pediatrician at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia writes about her interactions 27 teens who came to the emergency room seeking care for suicidal thoughts or a suicide attempt.

As a pediatrician and child health advocate, my clinical interactions and the statistics inspired me to understand what it’s like for adolescents who seek emergency treatment to prevent suicide. My colleagues and I conducted a research study, published in Hospital Pediatrics, in which we talked with 27 teens who came to the emergency room seeking care for suicidal thoughts or a suicide attempt. Our goal was to understand their experiences in order to improve hospital care for them.

They shared some of the complex triggers for their suicidal crises; they arise from complicated circumstances, and no one event is ever the sole cause. Rather, the teenagers in our study talked about several common themes known to put individuals at risk of suicidal thoughts.

Most have a mental health condition that is treatable with medication and therapy. Teens described how, when their condition wasn’t fully treated, they had intrusive, depressed, or racing, thoughts. Many said they had suicidal thoughts around the difficulty of coping with social pressures, whether from peers, teachers, or other people in their lives. Other teens told us about going through a breakup, experiencing bullying, or having a fight with a family member. For others, the triggers were the illness or loss of a loved one, or far worse, an event in which they were the victim of or a witness to violence.

People often ask me how social media and the internet contribute to teenagers’ risk of suicide. The teens we spoke with rarely discussed them alone as a trigger for their suicidal thoughts. However, for already vulnerable adolescents, technology can provide a forum for more trauma, worsening conflict or isolation. Further, having easy access to information on the internet about how to engage in self-harm can be dangerous for teens with mental health concerns.

When we asked about their thoughts on seeking treatment, overwhelmingly, teenagers said they wanted help for their suicidal thoughts. They wanted to feel better, and they especially appreciated having someone to talk to. (Research supports the idea that trusting relationships with adults can help.)

Sometimes, people who aren’t familiar with caring for teenagers at risk of suicide worry that there is nothing they can do to help if a teen is determined to die. Resoundingly, teenagers expressed just the opposite. They wanted help so that they could stop feeling like they wanted to die. And many of them told us that by coming to the emergency room, they found exactly that — they felt safe. Being in the hospital made them feel less stressed, and some had fewer intrusive thoughts about suicide or death.

Excerpted from “I treat teens who attempted suicide. Here’s what they told me.” on Vox. Read the full article.

Source: Vox | I treat teens who attempted suicide. Here’s what they told me., https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/10/30/20936636/suicide-mental-health-suicidal-thoughts-teens | © 2019 Vox Media, LLC.
For anyone with suicidal thoughts or a suicide attempt, seeking treatment is a life-saving step. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) and Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741) can offer in-the-moment support to anyone with suicidal thoughts.

A screening can help you determine if you or someone you care about should contact a mental health professional. Care Managers can arrange a free 30 minute Care Consultation so you can explore options with an expert. Call or email our Care Managers at 650.688.3625 or caremanager@chconline.org to set up an initial Consultation appointment.

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