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Student suicide may spur similar thoughts in teens

Posted by on May. 23, 2013 at 4:52 PM
  • 12 Replies

Student suicide may spur similar thoughts in teens

Updated: May 21, 2013 03:01 PM EDT

TUESDAY, May 21 (HealthDay News) -- When a classmate commits suicide, teens are more likely to consider or attempt suicide themselves, according to a new study. This "suicide contagion" occurs regardless of whether the teens knew the deceased student personally, the researchers found.

Teens aged 12 and 13 are particularly vulnerable, according to the study by Dr. Ian Colman, Canada Research Chair in Mental Health Epidemiology, and Sonja Swanson, of the Harvard School of Public Health. The study appeared May 21 in the CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

Since the effects of exposure to suicide can linger for two years or more, the researchers said, the study findings have implications for suicide-prevention strategies.

"We found that exposure to suicide predicts suicidality. This was true for all age groups, although exposure to suicide increased the risk most dramatically in the youngest age group, when baseline suicidality was relatively low," the researchers wrote. "Perhaps any exposure to a peer's suicide is relevant, regardless of the proximity to the [deceased person]. It may be best for [post-suicide] strategies to include all students rather than targeting close friends."

In conducting the study, the researchers examined data on more than 22,000 teens aged 12 to 17 from a Canadian national survey of children and youth.

Students aged 14 and 15 exposed to a classmate's suicide were almost three times as likely to have suicidal thoughts. Those aged 16 and 17 were twice as likely to contemplate suicide. By this age, the researchers found, nearly one-quarter of teens had a classmate commit suicide and 20 percent knew someone personally who took their own life.

The effects of the suicide contagion, however, were strongest among younger students. The study found that 12- and 13-year-olds exposed to suicide were five times more likely to have suicidal thoughts. Among these younger students, nearly 8 percent also attempted suicide after a classmate's suicide, compared with about 2 percent not exposed to the suicide of a peer.

"Our findings support school- or community-wide interventions over strategies targeting those who personally knew the [deceased person]," the researchers said. "Allocating resources following an event may be especially important during earlier adolescence, and schools and communities should be aware of an increased risk for at least two years following a suicide event."

Dr. India Bohanna, of the School of Public Health at James Cook University in Queensland, Australia, wrote in a commentary accompanying the study in the CMAJ that the study "provides convincing evidence that, among young people, exposure to suicide is a risk factor for future suicidal behavior. This is extremely important because it tells us that everyone who is exposed to suicide should be considered when [post-suicide] strategies are developed."

More information

Visit the American Psychological Association to learn more about teen suicide.

http://lifestyle.kstp.com/Global/story.asp?S=22330511&nav=menu1346_4

by on May. 23, 2013 at 4:52 PM
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Replies (1-10):
Barabell
by Barbara on May. 23, 2013 at 4:52 PM

Any thoughts, comments, or personal stories related to the things said in this article?

luckysevenwow
by Platinum Member on May. 23, 2013 at 7:10 PM

I think there are many things that create that 'mob' mentality. Sadly suicide is one of those.

daisykat
by on May. 23, 2013 at 10:59 PM
With all the sad news I've been hearing lately about dead and dying children, it's like, enough! It's so damn depressing and I've been trying to just numb myself to some of the news stories coming out. Those kids on the field trip in Lilydale the other day- they were fourth graders. My son is in the forth grade and I can't imagine having him buried and crushed to death in a sinkhole, mudslide, etc. during what should have been a perfectly safe school field trip.

But on the issue of suicide, when I was a sophomore in high school, a junior killed himself. It was horrifying. He started his truck on fire, hopped in the cab, and then ran a knife through his heart. One of my best friends was friends with him, and he wrote her his only suicide note. The police confiscated it and never gave it back. She slit her wrists two weeks later (unsuccessfully, thank heaven) but it just bears out what this article is saying. It's so important to have trust with your kids so they're comfortable sharing their feelings in a safe environment. Sad, sad stuff.
Manth
by on May. 24, 2013 at 3:12 AM

I'm not a teen (obviously, since my kids are).  My sister committed suicide 9 years ago - and it DEFINITELY triggered suicidal thoughts in me.  For several years, even though I was in therapy, I routinely found myself wondering if she had done the right thing and that maybe my family would be better off without me even though I could see for myself that her family was NOT better off without her.  Most of the time I'm fine but just sometimes I find myself slipping into those unhelpful thought processes.  And I'm an adult and I know for a fact that suicide is a very permanent solution to what turns out to be a temporary problem.  

So yeah, I can definitely see that having a peer suicide when you're a teen would turn your own thoughts to 'maybe they had the right idea'.  Teens are typically more dramatic than adults and often do not see (because they don't have the life experience) that the problems of the moment will pass.  I know when their Aunt died I kept a close watch on my girls (then 8 and 9) to be sure that they didn't start thinking that she did something smart.  Fortunately they have come through the difficult years OK and knowing that suicide places a massive burden on the survivors including extended family and friends.  So I don't think they would go that path in their own lives.

GleekingOut
by Silver Member on May. 24, 2013 at 7:44 AM

I think any death can spur you to think about your own death. My DD recently lost a child that she worked with - and first thing she said was "Why couldn't God have taken me instead? (child) deserves to be here more than I do." She then came to the conclusion that she believes there is no God if he can allow people to be murdered. But she has wondered whether if she had given her life before the child died; would the child have had to die? It's hard.

Barabell
by Barbara on May. 24, 2013 at 10:50 AM

I completely agree. I almost didn't post this article because it is so depressing. But at the same time, I would want to know the information in it if something like this was happening in my son's social circle. So I decided to post it anyhow.

Are you in MN? We live really close to Lilydale, and my son has even gone on field trips there before with his school. He's done a lot of other activities in that area with scouts and other neighborhood programs too, but that area of the park has pretty restricted access. With all the rain we've received, I'm really not sure why the field trips weren't cancelled. It's really tragic.

I'm so sorry that happened in high school and that you lost a close friend to suicide.

Quoting daisykat:

With all the sad news I've been hearing lately about dead and dying children, it's like, enough! It's so damn depressing and I've been trying to just numb myself to some of the news stories coming out. Those kids on the field trip in Lilydale the other day- they were fourth graders. My son is in the forth grade and I can't imagine having him buried and crushed to death in a sinkhole, mudslide, etc. during what should have been a perfectly safe school field trip.

But on the issue of suicide, when I was a sophomore in high school, a junior killed himself. It was horrifying. He started his truck on fire, hopped in the cab, and then ran a knife through his heart. One of my best friends was friends with him, and he wrote her his only suicide note. The police confiscated it and never gave it back. She slit her wrists two weeks later (unsuccessfully, thank heaven) but it just bears out what this article is saying. It's so important to have trust with your kids so they're comfortable sharing their feelings in a safe environment. Sad, sad stuff.


Barabell
by Barbara on May. 24, 2013 at 10:53 AM

I'm sorry that you lost your sister. Depression runs in my family, and I've had scares with both of my sisters. But fortunately they both received the help the needed before it became serious.

Thank you for sharing the additional comments too. It really does help provide additional perspective into this issue.

Quoting Manth:

I'm not a teen (obviously, since my kids are).  My sister committed suicide 9 years ago - and it DEFINITELY triggered suicidal thoughts in me.  For several years, even though I was in therapy, I routinely found myself wondering if she had done the right thing and that maybe my family would be better off without me even though I could see for myself that her family was NOT better off without her.  Most of the time I'm fine but just sometimes I find myself slipping into those unhelpful thought processes.  And I'm an adult and I know for a fact that suicide is a very permanent solution to what turns out to be a temporary problem.  

So yeah, I can definitely see that having a peer suicide when you're a teen would turn your own thoughts to 'maybe they had the right idea'.  Teens are typically more dramatic than adults and often do not see (because they don't have the life experience) that the problems of the moment will pass.  I know when their Aunt died I kept a close watch on my girls (then 8 and 9) to be sure that they didn't start thinking that she did something smart.  Fortunately they have come through the difficult years OK and knowing that suicide places a massive burden on the survivors including extended family and friends.  So I don't think they would go that path in their own lives.


daisykat
by on May. 24, 2013 at 2:36 PM
Quoting Barabell:



I live north of the metro on the MN/WI border. I'm in St. Croix Falls, right on the other side of Taylor's Falls. My husband works in the cities, primarily in Bloomington. I used to work right downtown St. Paul but now I work closer to home. We're going to MOA next weekend because my youngest has wristbands to Nickelodeon Universe. More about me than you ever asked. LOL
Barabell
by Barbara on May. 24, 2013 at 3:33 PM


Quoting daisykat:

Quoting Barabell:



I live north of the metro on the MN/WI border. I'm in St. Croix Falls, right on the other side of Taylor's Falls. My husband works in the cities, primarily in Bloomington. I used to work right downtown St. Paul but now I work closer to home. We're going to MOA next weekend because my youngest has wristbands to Nickelodeon Universe. More about me than you ever asked. LOL

I work in downtown St Paul. That is quite a drive! I'm glad you work closer to home now. We haven't been to MOA in a while, but I did get an email from Travelzoo yesterday for $19 wrist bands to Waterpark of MOA which also included pizza. I was thinking of buy two or three of them since it's a pretty good deal.

daisykat
by on May. 24, 2013 at 4:09 PM
Quoting Barabell:



Are you kidding? I'd totally buy them. BTW, did you know that every December MOA has a promotion that for every $500 worth of receipts you collect, you get an unlimited ride wristband for Nickelodeon Universe. Even if you just pay your cell phone bill there, anything. My sister-in-law stopped at an Asian restaurant in the food court and they had a basket of receipts and she asked if she could have them. She got 8 wristbands for free. Of course, she's also one of these extreme couponers and she says she's going to teach me how to do it. One time I went to Walmart with her and with the coupons she pulled out, I ended up spending only $18 on almost $100 worth of stuff.

I used to work at Pazzaluna, right behind the St. Paul Hotel. Yeah, I don't miss the drive. I don't know how the hubby does it. He has a company car, which helps.
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