Adolescent suicide

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:48 pm
According to the American Medical Association, suicide by adolescents has tripled in the United States over the past twenty years. Girls attempt suicide more often than boys, and usually do so by taking pills. Boys tend use violent methods, such as guns and hanging, and are more often 'successful' in their attempts. Risk factors for suicide in adolescents and young adults include major depression, drug or alcohol abuse, a recent personal crisis or stressful event, and a dysfunctional family. A past history of suicide attempts, a family history of suicide, and recent discharge from a psychiatric hospital are also risk factors. Of all these, major depression seems to be the most significant indicator of suicidal behavior in young people. Symptoms of adolescent depression include lethargy or agitation; change in eating and sleeping patterns; neglect of personal appearance; and feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness. Depressed teens may also have difficulty concentrating and complain about physical ailments such as headache, fatigue, or stomachache. They're likely to withdrawal from family and friends, display excessive moodiness, engage in vandalism, skip school, run away from home, and be sexually promiscuous. It's important that parents make attempts to discuss these behaviors with adolescents and teens. With support and understanding, teens may feel more comfortable asking for the help needed to overcome suicidal feelings. For more information about adolescent suicide, consult a health care provider.

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