Teen Suicide: Crisis on Campus

Student suicides: Be an educated parent.

An infographic by the team at College Degree Search

Hard numbers:
6 % of undergraduates and 4 percent of graduate students in 4-year colleges have “seriously considered attempting suicide” in the past year—and nearly half of each group did not tell anyone.
3X: The suicide rate among young adults, ages 15-24, has tripled since the 1950s and Suicide is currently the 2nd most common cause of death among college students.
1,100: number of suicides that occur at colleges every year – that’s roughly 7.5 per 100,000 students. 1 in 12: number of college students who have actually made a suicide plan at some point 1.5: number of college students out of every 100 who have actually attempted it.
2X as many young men, ages 20-24, commit suicide, compared with young women.
In the past 50 years, the suicide rate for those age 15-24 increased by over 200%.
12 people aged 15-24 will commit suicide today – that is one about every two hours.

Demographics:

Caucasians account for over 90% of all completed suicides.
2X: though Caucasians are twice as likely to commit suicide as African Americans; the rate of suicide is growing faster among young African Americans than among Caucasians.
Suicide rates from 1980-1995 increased 93% for African American females (age 15-24) and 214% for African American males (age 15-24).
Native Americans have the highest suicide rate among all 15-24 year olds.
Asian American women have the highest suicide rates among women ages 15 to 24.
Men commit suicide more than four times as often as women, but women attempt suicide about three times as often as men.
Suicide by firearm is the most common method for both men and women.

FACT: The emotional health of college freshmen — who feel buffeted by the recession and stressed by the pressures of high school — has declined to the lowest level since an annual survey of incoming students started collecting data 25 years ago.
The percentage of students who said their emotional health was above average fell to 52 percent.
It was 64 percent in 1985.

Campus stress producers
• Cost: Financial pressure, tuition plus room and board, is a huge stress-inducer.
• Competitiveness: How academically rigorous is the school?
• Acceptance rate: More competitive schools generally produce a more competitive student body.
• Crime on campus: is it safe?
• It’s the economy, stupid: has added to the stress, not just because of financial pressures on their parents but also because the students are worried about their own college debt and job prospects when they graduate.

5 Most Stressful Universities
5. Northwestern University Undergraduate Enrollment: 9,660 Total Price per Year: $58,829 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 51 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $23,337 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 49 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 23 percent Crime Rank (among top 25): 23
4. Harvard University Undergraduate Enrollment: 10,277 Total Price per Year: $56,000 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 47 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $33,276 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 59 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 6 percent Crime Rank (among top 25): 13
3. Columbia University in the City of New York Undergraduate Enrollment: 8,184 Total Price per Year: $59,208 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 50 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $31,796 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 54 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 10 percent Crime Rank (among top 25):
2. University of Pennsylvania Undergraduate Enrollment: 11,852 Total Price per Year: $57,360 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 50 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $25,952 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 45 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 12 percent Crime Rank (among top 25): 9
1. Washington University in St Louis Undergraduate Enrollment: 7,303 Total Price per Year: $58,901 Percent of Students Receiving Financial Aid: 50 percent Average Amount of Financial Aid: $23,963 Average of Financial Aid as Percentage of Total Price: 41 percent Percent of Applicants Admitted: 17 percent Crime Rank (among top 25): 6

Sizing up the risk factors include:
Prior history of suicidal behavior
Family history of suicide or suicide attempts
Suicidal behavior of a friend or colleague
Mental health problems like depression or substance abuse
Family history of depression or substance abuse
Easy access to lethal methods (like firearms)
Interpersonal isolation
Impulsive, aggressive or antisocial behaviors
History of abuse or family violence
Some common warning signs are when student:
Talks about suicide, death or having no reason to live
Is preoccupied with death and dying
Has trouble eating or sleeping
Experiences drastic changes in behavior
Withdraws from friends or social activities
Loses interest in hobbies, work, school, etc
Prepares for death by making out a will and final arrangements
Gives away prized possessions
Takes unnecessary risks
Relationship difficulties including a recent loss or threat of significant loss
Loses interest in their personal appearance
Increases their use of alcohol or drugs
Expresses a sense of hopelessness
Is faced with a situation of humiliation or failure
Performance difficulties
Legal or financial trouble
Is unwilling to “connect” with potential helpers

In America, someone attempts suicide once every minute, and someone completes a suicide once every 17 minutes. Throughout the world, approximately 2,000 people kill themselves each day.

What can parents do?
Stay in touch with your college kid. Freshmen especially need to know that the family support they relied on through childhood is still there, even long distance
Chat by phone, IM or Skype
Send care packages
Visit occasionally
Be a calming voice when things get rough
Do not undervalue the importance of sleep, diet, exercise and de-stressing activities
Familiarize yourself with the student health and mental health services available on campus, so you can remind your child of the support available on campus
Be sensitive to the signs of stress
What is being done to combat college student suicide:
The Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Act (GLSMA) is the first piece of legislation to provide federal funds specifically for youth, adolescent and college age suicide prevention. Included in the bill is $31 million for over five years to fund the matching-grant programs for colleges and universities to help raise awareness about youth suicide
The Campus Suicide Prevention Grants program supports colleges and universities in their efforts to prevent suicide among students and to enhance services for students with depression, substance abuse, and other behavioral health problems that put them at risk of suicide.
The National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention is taking action on a broader scale. With this public/private partnership, leaders from Government, business, the advocacy community, and other groups are working together to advance the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention.
National Graduate Student Crisis Line, offers immediate help for grads in crisis 1-800-GRAD-HLP (1-800-472-3457)

Parenting Teens: Hoarding Can Start in Early Adolescence

teenshoardingWith the expansion of cable television, there doesn’t seem to be a topic in reality shows that is missing.  From 16 and Pregnant, to Intervention, to Hoarders, people are learning more about a variety of issues.  More importantly, there is now an awareness that is helping others to understand disorders, addictions, challenges others are facing and a distinct mental health problem such as hoarding.

Hoarding can start in early adolescence.  If not addressed, it can get progressively worse.  Some of the symptoms can be:

  • Cluttered living spaces
  • Inability to discard items
  • Keeping stacks of newspapers, magazines or junk mail
  • Moving items from one pile to another, without discarding anything
  • Acquiring unneeded or seemingly useless items, including trash
  • Difficulty managing daily activities, including procrastination and rouble making decisions
  • Difficulty organizing items
  • Perfectionism
  • Excessive attachment to possessions, and discomfort letting others touch or borrow possessions
  • Limited or no social interactions

It’s not clear what causes hoarding. Some researchers believe that hoarding occurs on a continuum – some people may simply be considered harmless pack rats, while others have a much more severe form of collecting that is life-threatening. The condition is more likely to affect those with a family history of hoarding, so genetics and upbringing are likely among the triggering factors.

Hoarding is currently considered a subtype of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), but this classification is under debate. Many mental health researchers argue that, while some people with OCD have hoarding behavior, hoarding is not specific to OCD. In fact, one study found that hoarding was no more likely to be associated with OCD than with other anxiety disorders. – Mayo Clinic

Some risk factors and features about hoarding that researchers have come to understand are associated with age, family history, stress factors, social isolation and perfectionism.

Help for hoarders is widespread today.  Hoarding Cleanup is an nationwide service that offers resources of help.

Parents, start with your kid’s bedrooms – encourage them to keep their rooms organized and if you notice that their room is becoming more than “just a messy room” take steps to find out why. Another red flag could be your child’s locker at school.  Check it out!

Be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

Need help with finding residential therapy?  Visit www.helpyourteens.com.

Holiday Blues-Teen Suicide-Facebook-Suicide Prevention

As the holidays are here it can also be a very dark time for some people.

For anyone who has lost a loved one due to suicide, it is one of the most painful issues they will ever face; sometimes leaving an overwhelming sense of doubt, guilt, and silence enfolding the circle of friends and family like no other experience can. In the wake of this tragedy, we are painfully forced to question- What could I have done? Could I have made a difference? Why didn’t I know?

We don’t have a life to lose in this world. We must confront suicide and suicidal thoughts openly and honestly, and use every opportunity to make a difference by breaking the silence and suffering. Ten years ago the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention was launched. Its objectives galvanized the country around a common goal.  As a result, we have advanced the science and support for suicide prevention programs nationwide.

New suicide prevention work has emerged across the Departments of Defense, Veterans Affairs, Health and Human Services and others. One notable achievement is the establishment of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-TALK (8255), a number that can be dialed anywhere in the United States to connect the caller with confidential and expert help.

To accelerate the action needed to prevent suicide, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius launched the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention with the charge to advance and update the National Strategy. The Action Alliance brings together public, private and nonprofit partners to engage every sector of society with a vision of ending the tragic experience of suicide in America.

Facebook is an important part of that partnership, and the new initiative to augment its response to potentially suicidal members by offering the opportunity for a private chat with a trained crisis representative from the Suicide Prevention Lifeline in addition to providing the Lifeline’s phone number. This service will be available to people who use Facebook in the United States and Canada.

The new service enables Facebook users to report a suicidal comment they see posted by a friend to Facebook using either the Report Suicidal Content link or the report links found throughout the site.  The person who posted the suicidal comment will then immediately receive an e-mail from Facebook encouraging them to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or to click on a link to begin a confidential chat session with a crisis worker.

Preventing suicide is everyone’s business. Nearly 100 Americans die by suicide every day, and in the past year, more than eight million Americans 18 or older had thought seriously about suicide. As members of a family, a school, business, neighborhood, faith communities, friends, and our government, we all need to work together to solve this problem.

We simply can no longer allow those we live, work and play with to ever believe that suicide is an acceptable solution even in the worst of times.  Everyone needs to learn about the symptoms of mental illnesses and substance abuse, the warning signs of suicide, how to stand with and support someone who is in crisis, and how to get someone you care about the help they need.

Most of all, we need to be open to talking about these issues in our communities.  Once we begin to support those in need, and whenever possible treat their mental and substance use disorders with the same urgency as any other health condition, we will reduce the rates of suicide, advance health and improve the use of limited health care dollars.

Learn more about the partnership between Facebook, SAMHSA and the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Teen Loneliness – Teen Depression – Teen Suicide

You can be surrounded by family and friends and still feel alone.

You can be alone in your home and feel full of life.

As an adult, there are those that struggle with being alone at the holidays.  Even with maturity and intelligence, loneliness can be frightening.

As a teenager, it can be more difficult.  Teens want to be accepted, as do adults, however in many ways their feelings are not mature enough to understand that you are never really alone if you can find your happiness from within.

Everyone has moments of sadness, that is normal.  Everyone feels alone at one time or another, but when the holidays are here, it can escalate your feelings of sadness.

Many parents get caught up in the hustle and stress of the holidays – from buying Christmas gifts you know you can’t afford, to grocery shopping and cooking the meals – parenting at the holidays can be considered overtime work.

However, if you have a teen in your home that seems to be feeling a bit blue, be sure you include them in your work.  Encourage them to join you in the kitchen – even let them help you wrap gifts for others.  Let your teen know that their family is always there for them.

During the holidays, sadly we hear more about suicides, including teen suicide.  In Florida and Broward County we have Florida Initiative for Suicide Prevention.  Know the warning signs and don’t be a parent in denial.

Learn more – be an educated parent, you will have safer and healthier teens.

Being alone at Christmas can be a blessing.  Take the time to count those blessings, watch an old movie, take a long walk and just enjoy being with yourself.  Your teens will learn by your example.

Read more.

Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Teen Suicide

teensuicide2Suicide is the third most common cause of death amongst adolescents between 15-24 years of age, and the sixth most common cause of death amongst 5-14 year olds. It is estimated that over half of all teens suffering from depression will attempt suicide at least once, and of those teens, roughly seven percent will succeed on the first try. Teenagers are especially vulnerable to the threat of suicide, because in addition to increased stress from school, work and peers, teens are also dealing with hormonal fluctuations that can complicate even the most normal situations.

Because of these social and personal changes, teens are also at higher risk for depression, which can also increase feelings of despair and the desire to commit suicide. In fact, according to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) almost all people who commit suicide suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder or substance abuse disorder. Often, teens feel as though they have no other way out of their problems, and may not realize that suicidal thoughts and feelings can be treated. Unfortunately, due to the often volatile relationship between teens and their parents, teens may not be as forthcoming about suicidal feelings as parents would hope. The good news is there are many signs parents can watch for in their teen without necessarily needing their teen to open up to them.

At some point in most teens’ lives, they will experience periods of sadness, worry and/or despair. While it is completely normal for a healthy person to have these types of responses to pain resulting from loss, dismissal, or disillusionment, those with serious (often undiagnosed) mental illnesses often experience much more drastic reactions. Many times these severe reactions will leave the teen in despair, and they may feel that there is no end in sight to their suffering. It is at this point that the teen may lose hope, and with the absence of hope comes more depression and the feeling that suicide is the only solution. It isn’t.

Teen girls are statistically twice as likely as their male counterparts to attempt suicide. They tend to turn to drugs (overdosing) or to cut themselves, while boys are traditionally more successful in their suicide attempts because they utilize more lethal methods such as guns and hanging. This method preference makes boys almost four times more successful in committing suicide.

Studies have borne out that suicide rates rise considerably when teens can access firearms in their home. In fact, nearly 60% of suicides committed in the United States that result in immediate death are accomplished with a gun. This is one crucial reason that any gun kept in a home with teens, even if that teen does not display any outward signs of depression, be stored in a locked compartment away from any ammunition. In fact, the ammunition should be stored in a locked compartment as well, and the keys to both the gun and ammunition compartments should be kept in a different area from where normal, everyday keys are kept. Remember to always keep firearms, ammunition, and the keys to the locks containing them, away from kids.

Unfortunately, teen suicide is not a rare event. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that suicide is the third leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24. This disturbing trend is affecting younger children as well, with suicide rates experiencing dramatic increases in the under-15 age group from 1980 to 1996. Suicide attempts are even more prevalent, though it is difficult to track the exact rates.