Those struggling with suicidal thoughts need to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and coaching these teens about a greater purpose and plan for their lives can reignite hope.
(PRWEB) January 11, 2013
"The wave of suicide in this generation is about more than mental illness in teenagers; it's about our own society's failure to instill purpose, meaning and mental health in those teen's lives," says faith-based website, followme.org.
That statement came today in response to a new study's startling claim that 1 in 25 teenagers attempts suicide, according to the Psychiatry Journal of the American Medical Association.
Using in-person interviews and questionnaires, researchers at Harvard University surveyed 6,483 teenagers and their parents about the prevalence of suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts in adolescents. While the study primarily analyzed instances of suicidal ideation, researchers also sought to locate which types of teens were most vulnerable to mental illnesses, according to the JAMA report.
Students were asked how frequently they had suffered from suicidal thoughts, if they had ever acted on those thoughts, if they were seeking medical treatment at the time of those thoughts, and if they had been diagnosed with any of a range of mental illnesses, as determined by the DSM-V, the report said.
The report's findings? One in eight (12.1%) teens has contemplated suicide, with 4 percent of teens developing suicide plans and 4.1 percent of teens attempting suicide, according to the JAMA report.
And these suicidal thoughts follow teens into adulthood, the study's authors say. "What adults say is, the highest risk time for first starting to think about suicide is in adolescence," Matthew Nock, the director of the Harvard study, told Fox News on Thursday.
Nock and his team discovered that almost all of the teens who acted on their suicidal thoughts also had some form of mental illness, most commonly a major depressive disorder, the Fox News report said. More than half of these suicidal youth were in treatment at the time of ideation, a fact which Nock called both "encouraging" and "disturbing."
"We know that a lot of the kids who are at risk and thinking about suicide are getting (treatment)," he told Reuters Health. However, "We don't know how to stop them-- we don't have any evidence-based treatments for suicidal behavior."
As the search for these evidence-based treatments continues, however, one faith-based organization says that spiritual treatments need to be taken more seriously. Followme.org provides spiritual resources for individuals from all walks of life trying to improve mental health. Its founder says that "the wave of suicide in this generation" demands consideration of spiritual alternatives.
"This study shows that suicide is ravaging this generation's teens, across gender, race, socioeconomic class, and religion. Treatment options need to breathe purpose and meaning back into these young lives, and Christian spiritual approaches have proven capable of doing that," says Pastor Jamie of followme.org.
"Those struggling with suicidal thoughts need to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and coaching these teens about a greater purpose and plan for their lives can reignite hope," he says.
Spiritual solutions or not, Nock and his team's recommendations are clear: "For parents, if they suspect their child is thinking about suicide... or talking about death, I would have that child evaluated."
The full report is entitled: "Prevalence, Correlates, and Treatment of Lifetime Suicidal Behavior Among Adolescents." It is available online, published in the January edition of the Psychiatry Journal of the American Medical Association.