Study: Cyberbullying Linked to Suicide Risk in Adolescents

teen girl sitting on bridge on cell phone near sunset

Youth suicide prevention has to include addressing bullying online

The connection between bullying, mental health, and suicide risk has been known for some time. In 2008, for instance, a Yale review of studies from 13 countries found that bullying was linked to suicide risk. But the link between specifically online bullying and suicide has been more difficult to pin down. Now, a recent study suggests that online bullying may pose suicide risks above and beyond offline bullying.

According to new research from the Lifespan Brain Institute (LiBI) of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and the University of Pennsylvania, young adolescents (between ages 10 and 13) who are victims of cyberbullying are more likely to report suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts. The study defined cyberbullying as “purposefully trying to harm another person or be mean to them online, in texts or group texts, or on social media (like Instagram or Snapchat).”

The same study also asked about offline bullying, which included behaviors such as threatening, hitting, being deliberately left out of activities, and spreading rumors or gossip. Notably, the researchers found that online and offline bullying only partially overlap; that is, while there are certainly some kids who are victims of both types of bullying, they are distinct behaviors — and cyberbullying itself is an independent suicide risk factor, not merely an extension of offline bullying.

Notably, the study found that while victims of cyberbullying are at an increased risk of suicidality, perpetrators of online bullying are not. This is distinct from offline bullying, where both victims and perpetrators are known to be at increased risk of suicide.

“For policy makers wishing to optimize youth suicide prevention efforts, this study should further encourage interventions for those who are being bullied online,” said senior study author Ran Barzilay, MD, Ph.D., an assistant professor at LiBI.

Black youth may be particularly at risk

Online bullying is a problem for youth of all races, but the evidence says it affects certain demographics more than others. For instance, a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychology found that over the course of 2020, Black youth experienced increases in online racial discrimination, and those experiences were linked to poorer mental health. The study’s authors noted that White nationalist and online terror groups became more active online in the wake of the killings of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and other Black Americans; that Black youth experienced more online racism during this time; and that there may be a critical period following racial discrimination experiences, as same-day and next-day mental health were particularly adversely affected.

While this study did not examine suicidality specifically, other research has shown that suicides are on the rise among Black youth, and given that we now know there is a link between cyberbullying and suicide risk, it seems likely that online racism is a contributing factor. Youth suicide prevention efforts must include training on racial trauma and targeted interventions to report and address the effects of online hate speech.

A growing potential risk in a rapidly changing world

As young adolescents spend more time online than ever before — a trend accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic — cyberbullying presents a growing threat. Unfortunately, it’s also a difficult threat to manage. While offline bullying usually ends at the end of the school day, children who are cyberbullied may feel like there is no escape; their bullies are on social media 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And adult intervention to stop cyberbullying may be more difficult: social media accounts can be hidden behind privacy settings, and adults may not be familiar enough with online norms and culture to even recognize that bullying is happening.

These problems are not unsolvable, however. Adults have a responsibility to our children to intervene and prevent cyberbullying as well as other behaviors that increase suicide risk. That starts with parents talking to their kids about what they’re experiencing online and schools enforcing anti-bullying policies on the ground and online. It also includes social media platforms, government officials, and medical professionals who screen children for suicidality or treat youth mental health issues.

More must be done to protect our youth, and that includes seeking accountability and justice when the system fails to protect a child. If you lost a child to suicide completion, the Law Offices of Skip Simpson would be honored to listen to your story in a free consultation. We are based in Texas and serve families nationwide.

Decline in Teen Mental Health May Increase Suicide Risk

A depressed teenager gazes stoically while she sits in a large gray chair.

The hidden impact of the pandemic on young Americans

It’s clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected most people’s mental health to one extent or another, but a recent survey sheds a light on a particularly vulnerable segment of the population: adolescents.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a national survey showed that more than four in 10 teens reported feeling “persistently sad or hopeless” in the first half of 2021, and a truly alarming one in five said they had contemplated suicide. The CDC found that the impact was disproportionately felt by female youth, LGBTQ students, and those who were treated unfairly because of their race.

The CDC attributes this mental health crisis to traumatic stressors from the pandemic that erode mental well-being.

“These data echo a cry for help,” said Debra Houry, a deputy director at the CDC.

But the survey results also offered a ray of hope: when schools are functioning at their best, they can provide that help.

Feeling connected and supported at school helps to prevent suicide

For young people who spend the majority of their waking hours at school, it’s unsurprising that there is a strong link between mental health and education. This is a self-reinforcing relationship: students with good mental health do better in school, and doing better in school improves mental health. The danger of a mental health crisis among teens is that it can become a vicious cycle, with poor mental health leading to worse school outcomes that further damage mental health. However, a safe and supportive school environment can be a bulwark against mental health problems in general and suicidality in particular.

That starts with school personnel. Teachers and school administrators can cultivate a safe and supportive environment in many ways, from better classroom management to making sure all students feel welcome regardless of gender, race, or sexual orientation. Schools that cultivate safe environments also connect students with strong support systems, including their parents, teachers, coaches, other adult caregivers, and peers.

Healthcare professionals, too, need to be aware of this growing youth mental health crisis and respond accordingly when treating young patients. That includes asking teens about their family and school relationships in routine health screenings, educating parents, and encouraging positive parenting practices. It also includes recognizing that teens are at elevated risk right now, and they need to take any warning signs of suicide seriously.

Accountability is key to helping prevent teen suicide

While the COVID-19 pandemic certainly did not help, America was facing a youth mental health crisis long before the pandemic. According to the CDC, the percentage of teens who reported “persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness” increased from 26 percent in 2009 to 37 percent in 2019. The pandemic put this in stark relief: in the realm of mental health, we are failing our youth, and much more needs to be done to promote good mental health and prevent suicide.

Part of that work is fighting for answers and accountability when young lives are cut far too short by suicide. If you lost a child or any loved one to suicide, give us a call for a free and confidential consultation. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson is based in Texas and serves families nationwide.

Study: First-Time Gun Ownership Increases Suicide Death Risk in Cohabitants

handgun in holster lying on a dark floorExamining the safety consequences of bringing a handgun into the home

In the United States, we have the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. It’s always important to remember that this right comes with responsibilities, and one of those responsibilities is to be mindful of all the safety risks associated with a gun in the home.

Unfortunately, new research puts those risks in stark relief. A new study out of Northeastern University found that a woman’s risk of death by suicide increases by 40% when someone else in her previously gun-free home becomes a first-time handgun owner.

The study focused on adult women who lived with someone — whether a spouse, partner, or roommate — who brought at least one handgun into the home for the first time. None of the 330,000 women in the study owned guns themselves.

While these findings are troubling, they are also consistent with what we know about suicide more broadly: it’s usually an impulsive decision, and access to lethal means is strongly correlated with the risk of death.

Having access to a gun can make all the difference

One of the most common myths about suicide is that someone who is suicidal will eventually find a way, no matter what. If that person didn’t reach for a gun, this line of thinking goes, then they would have reached for something else. That line of thinking glosses over a critical detail: guns are far and away the most lethal commonly used suicide method. About 90% of firearm suicide attempts result in death, which is 50 times higher than the likelihood of death by other common methods like pills and cutting.

“If you reach for pills in that moment of vulnerability, you’re so much more likely to have a second chance at life than if you reached for a gun,” said Northeastern professor Matt Miller, who led the study. Miller added that “more than 90% of the people who survive a suicide attempt don’t go on to die by suicide thereafter. So if you prevent someone from reaching for a gun, you’ve probably saved their life, not only today but also in the long run.”

In short, while having a gun in the home may not increase the risk of a suicide attempt, it dramatically increases the risk that an attempt will end in death. Keeping a gun out of the hands of a suicidal person greatly increases the chances that they will survive, and most people who survive a suicide attempt do not go on to die by suicide. It’s an impulsive decision, and in time, that impulse will pass. Eliminating access to guns is a critical part of safety in those vulnerable moments.

Responsible gun ownership and secure storage of firearms are part of suicide prevention

None of this means that people should never own guns or keep them in their homes. What it means is that lawful gun owners need to think carefully about all the safety implications, including the suicide risk of their housemates, before they decide to bring a gun into the home. Most people who legally buy a gun do so to protect themselves and their households, but the data on suicide shows that this can tragically backfire.

In addition, if a gun is to be kept in the home, it must be safely stored. Indeed, this may be one reason first-time gun ownership is so dangerous: inexperienced gun owners may not know how to store their weapons safely. A study published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health found that storing weapons locked and unloaded significantly reduces the risk of suicide by firearm. Again, this is consistent with what we know about suicide: it’s usually an impulsive decision that often involves reaching for whatever method is close at hand. Without ready access to an unlocked, loaded firearm, suicide by gun becomes much less likely.

Families who have lost loved ones to suicide have legal recourse

These findings on gun ownership speak to a universal truth: suicide is preventable, and many suicides are unfortunately the result of negligence or malpractice. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson has the experience and knowledge to investigate the circumstances of your loved one’s death by suicide and advise you on your legal rights and options. We are based in Texas and serve families nationwide. If you or anyone you know has lost someone to suicide, contact attorney Skip Simpson today.

Research Shows Increase in Adolescent Suicides During the Pandemic

Texas suicide lawyer

The impact of COVID-19 may have been especially harsh for youth mental health

It’s well known that the COVID-19 pandemic had a dramatic negative effect on mental health, especially among children and adolescents. Indeed, last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the Children’s Hospital Association declared a national emergency in child and adolescent mental health.

Unfortunately, new research has shone a light on the sobering consequences of this mental health crisis. According to a recently published study, at least five states saw an increase in the absolute number of youth suicides, and the overall proportion of youth suicides increased across the states studied.

Researchers partnered with public health departments in 14 states and reviewed death certificate data to identify adolescent deaths by suicide. In five states — Georgia, Indiana, New Jersey, Oklahoma, and Virginia — the total number of adolescent suicides increased. Those five states, along with California, also saw an increase in the proportion of adolescent suicides as a share of total suicides. Overall, the researchers found that the proportion of youth suicides in those 14 states was higher than before the pandemic.

It’s as yet unclear why the pandemic affected suicide rates in some states more than others. Some reasons might include the death or illness of caregivers in those adolescents’ lives, as well as in-person or virtual schooling.

Adult caregivers and service providers need to protect the youth in their care

Researchers say these findings highlight the importance of watching out for warning signs of suicide in children and adolescents. “We’re all kind of blind within our own families or households,” said Marie-Laure Charpignon, the first author of the study. Sometimes “we see what we want to see, or what we have the opportunity to see in the limited amount of time we have,” according to a CNN report on the study.

Some of the key warning signs of depression and suicidality in children and adolescents include:

  • Changes in routine, such as eating and sleeping habits
  • Developing personality changes or mood swings
  • Loss of interest in school, activities, or social interaction
  • Lack of response to praise
  • Neglecting personal appearance or hygiene
  • Giving away or discarding treasured belongings
  • Alluding to suicide in writing or speech, e.g. “I’m not going to be a problem for much longer” or “if anything happens to me…”
  • Risky or self-destructive behavior
  • Cheeriness after depressive episodes

It goes without saying that the pandemic has been difficult for people of all ages, and it seems entirely likely that adults may have been too consumed with the disruption of their own lives to see warning signs among the children in their care. Parents, guardians, teachers, coaches, and medical and mental health professionals alike have a role to play in preventing youth suicide. Spotting the warning signs is critical, and so is intervening appropriately to prevent suicide when those warning signs emerge.

Families of adolescent suicide victims have legal recourse

The law holds people who care for children at risk of suicide to high standards, and when those standards of care are not met, there must be accountability. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson has the experience and knowledge to investigate the circumstances and advise you on your legal rights and options. We are based in Texas and serve families nationwide. If you or anyone you know has lost a child to suicide, contact attorney Skip Simpson today.

The Link Between Autism Spectrum Disorder and Suicide

puzzle jigsaw heart on brain, mental health concept, world autism awareness day

A new British study has shed more light on the elevated risk of death by suicide among people on the autism spectrum.

The study, first published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, found that 10% of people who died by suicide in the United Kingdom had evidence of likely undiagnosed autism. That is 11 times higher than the rate of autism in the UK.

The results of the British study are in line with previous research on the link between autism and suicide. Last year, a Danish study found that individuals with diagnosed autism spectrum disorder (ASD) had more than three times the risk of suicide attempts and suicide completion compared to the general population. And a meta-analysis conducted by Columbia University and University of Colorado researchers concluded that children and adults with ASD had more than three times the risk of self-harm and a substantially increased risk for suicidality.

“The findings from our systematic review and meta-analysis underscore the need for targeted interventions to reduce the risk of self-harm in people with autism,” said a co-author of the latter study, Dr. Ashley Blanchard, assistant professor of emergency medicine at Columbia College of Physicians and Surgeons.

Within the autistic population, a Swedish study found that death by suicide is more common among individuals with mild autism than severe autism. The same study also found that autistic women are at greater risk than autistic men – notably, this is the reverse of the gender breakdown of suicides in the general population.

Why are people on the autism spectrum at elevated risk of suicide?

Among the heaviest emotional burdens carried by many people on the spectrum, especially women, is “camouflaging;” that is, making constant and elaborate effort to hide the signs of autism. A 2021 study found that camouflaging comes with a significant cost: physical exhaustion, anxiety, depression, and erosion of the sense of identity.

People on the autism spectrum may grow up being bullied or isolated socially, and the pain of those experiences can build up over time. Studies have also shown a connection between unmet support needs and suicidality in autistic people. This is a widespread problem: according to the National Institutes of Health, the majority of autistic adults have unmet needs for functional skills services, employment or vocation services, and mental and behavioral health services.

One of the key warning signs of suicide risk is feeling “trapped,” like there is no way out of an overwhelming situation. As the American Association of Suicidology notes, autistic people often have some cognitive inflexibility, meaning they can easily get stuck in a negative thought pattern and have difficulty considering alternatives.

Recognizing suicide warning signs in people on the autism spectrum can be difficult

Autism spectrum disorder affects perception, social interaction, communication, and patterns of behavior. One consequence of ASD is that the warning signs of suicidality may present differently in someone with ASD compared to a neurotypical person.

Much more research is needed to identify the warning signs of suicidality in people on the autism spectrum and develop screening methods and interventions that meet the unique needs of autistic people. For instance, people on the spectrum may not answer standard suicide screening questions as readily as others, or their answers may require more interpretation to assess the true risk of suicide. As an important step forward, the American Association of Suicidology recently released resources on its website for autistic people in crisis.

It’s also clear that the people who know an autistic person best – parents, siblings, partners, and close friends – are best-positioned to recognize that something may be wrong. Medical and mental health professionals need to listen to those voices and take suicide warning signs seriously. We know that people on the autism spectrum carry a high degree of suicide risk, and the healthcare system needs to respond accordingly to mitigate that risk.

Victims’ families may have legal recourse

Additional research and suicide prevention resources for people on the autism spectrum are sorely needed because far too many autistic lives are cut short by suicide. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson has the experience and knowledge to investigate the circumstances of suicide and advise families on how to proceed during an extraordinarily difficult time. Our law firm is based in Texas, but we serve clients nationwide. If you have lost a loved one to suicide completion, contact attorney Skip Simpson today.

Texas Bar Rule Change Allows Attorneys to Disclose Information to Protect Clients from Suicide

One of an attorney’s most serious responsibilities is respecting client confidentiality. However, a still greater responsibility is protecting the client’s life.

Last year, the State Bar of Texas rightly voted to amend the Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct to allow lawyers to disclose confidential information “when the lawyer has reason to believe it is necessary to do so in order to prevent the client from dying by suicide.” (Rule 1.05. Confidentiality of Information)

The amended rule went into effect this year, allowing Texas attorneys to help their clients get the assistance they need to prevent suicide.

Here’s what attorney Skip Simpson said in support of the rule change:

“It may be one of the most dangerous situations—a client who is considering killing himself or herself. Should the lawyer reach out for assistance to prevent a suicide attempt? The answer is yes—and the lawyer needs a confidentiality of information exception to permit disclosure to prevent client death by suicide.

Lawyers may be confronted with clients who are so despondent about their circumstances that they state they are considering “leaving this earth,” “just disappearing,” or something else that worries the lawyer.

In those cases it is appropriate to ask the client, “Are you suicidal?”

Once the lawyer has started screening for suicidal thinking, the lawyer cannot be hampered by the notion of confidentiality. Even for mental health specialists, where there are concerns that the patient may be at risk for suicide, confidentiality is trumped by the need to save a life. Information from family, for instance, may be lifesaving; at such times, confidentiality must be broken.

The U.S. surgeon general and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention issued the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention. Goal 7 of the report includes lawyers as professionals whose work brings them into contact with clients with suicide risk. The goal is to train lawyers on how to address suicidal ideations and on how to respond to those affected.

Part of responding to clients affected by suicidal thinking is reaching out for assistance.”

Originally published in the Texas Bar Journal, February 2021.

988 Suicide Hotline Will Go Live This Year

But many states aren’t ready for the rollout

A 13-year-old girl is using her smartphone in the dark room. The content she is browsing projects in front of her.

This year, we will see an important development in the fight to prevent deaths by suicide. In July 2022, 988 will go live as the shortcut to call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

The hope is that the 988 shortcut for the suicide hotline will become as well-known as the 911 shortcut for emergency services, leading to more calls, quicker crisis response, and ultimately, fewer deaths.

The problem is that most states have not ramped up their call center and crisis response capacity to match the expected increase in calls. Only four states have passed implementation laws that include fee measures to pay for the increase in calls. Just six states are prepared with statewide crisis services, according to the National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI).

Most suicides are preventable, and most people who are at risk seek help

Despite persistent myths to the contrary, the evidence says that most suicides are preventable. The suicidal impulse is an acute, transient experience that can and usually does pass if delayed.

Another myth is that people who die by suicide were unwilling to seek help. In fact, studies have shown that more than half of people who died by suicide sought help in the six months prior to their deaths.

The key is to have the right interventions in place, and that’s why suicide lifelines are vital. Lifelines allow people at risk of suicide to speak with a trained crisis worker who can listen empathetically, provide emotional support, and recommend other resources. This is especially vital for people in underserved communities with few other options.

Immediate intervention is key when someone is at risk of suicide

When 988 becomes available, people at risk of suicide will be just three digits away from support. It’s an important improvement because the task of looking up a 10-digit phone number could be enough to deter someone from calling.

However, if states aren’t prepared to handle the increase in call volume, they could trade one problem for another. In states that don’t have robust local centers to handle calls to the suicide lifeline, many calls are routed to a backup center in the nationwide network. “When calls are re-routed to centers out-of-state, callers in crisis often wait two to three times longer, receive fewer linkages to effective local care, and are more likely to abandon their calls,” according to a Lifeline report.

Much more needs to be done to enhance the lifelines. In addition to hiring enough staff to answer all their calls, states need to offer chat and text messaging capabilities and geo-location functionality so that people with out-of-state phone numbers are still routed to call centers in the states where they are physically located.

More broadly, greater investment is needed in other mental health services – outpatient care, inpatient treatment, therapy, safety planning, monitoring, and so on – as part of the overall suicide care continuum. Suicide hotlines play a vital role, but other services need to be ramped up as well so that hotline workers can refer callers to those services as needed. It does a caller little good if they need inpatient care but there are no inpatient beds available.

Legal help is available for victims’ families

This investment in prevention is needed because far too many lives are cut short by preventable suicides. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson has the experience and knowledge to investigate the circumstances of suicide and advise families on how to proceed during an extraordinarily difficult time. Although our law firm is based in Texas, we serve clients nationwide. If you have lost a loved one to suicide completion, contact attorney Skip Simpson today.

Campus Suicide Skyrockets – Are Colleges Liable For Student Deaths?

College students in a large classroom show signs of stress - student with hand on forehead looking down

A string of suicides at U.S. colleges and universities is renewing calls for more on-campus mental health services.

The situation is grim with some campuses experiencing multiple instances of students taking their own lives. Over the last six months, there have been four Worcester Polytechnical Institute, Massachusetts, student deaths attributed to suicide or apparent suicide, according to the media reports.

Similar fatalities have been recently reported on campuses in North Carolina, Missouri, California, and New Hampshire.

A recent study found that, nationwide, more than 14% of students said that they had seriously considered suicide in the past year. This is more than twice the rate in 2007.

People are calling on university and college officials to step up and offer the services students need to cope.

A Question of Campus Negligence

Under certain conditions, colleges and universities can be held liable for student suicides.

In many, but not all, cases, failing to provide students with reasonable mental health services and ignoring signs of suicide is an act of negligence.

Various courts have determined that colleges and universities have special relationships with their students that obligate them to fulfill a “duty of care” and act to prevent suicides.

Student suicide is a grave tragedy. When students die by suicide, it is important for their loved ones to consider a wrongful death lawsuit against the school and/or other liable parties.

In addition to securing answers and justice for yourself, a lawsuit could force a college or university to provide better services that help to prevent future suicides.

Calls for Improvement

The mental health crisis that has affected young people has attracted the attention of the federal government. Surgeon General Vivek H. Murthy called for action in a December statement.

“The challenges today’s generation of young people face are unprecedented and uniquely hard to navigate,” he said. “Our obligation to act is not just medical — it’s moral.

“We have an unprecedented opportunity as a country to rebuild in a way that refocuses our identity and common values, puts people first, and strengthens our connections to each other.”

COVID-19 Impact

Addressing the mental health crisis is critical. The rate of depression among college and university students is high.

In the 2020-21 academic year, 41% of students reported symptoms of depression and 34%  reported feeling burdened by anxiety, according to data from the 2021 Healthy Minds Study.

The COVID-19 pandemic has added extra weight to this large task. As many campuses have returned to in-person classes, administrators have worked to balance the need for pandemic-related restrictions, such as mask-wearing and quarantines and medical reports, with students’ deep need to socialize, make new friends, and gather in person.

On top of the pandemic, piling on even more stressors, are things like: a deep nationwide political divide, racism, climate change, social media, limited health care access, low wages, depressing economic outlook, and the strain of virtual learning in isolation.

Help For Families Experiencing Suicide

If you have lost a loved one to suicide, it is important that you find out who is liable for their death. You may be able to save others from a tragic end. People and entities that may be liable in wrongful death suicide lawsuits include:

  • Drug manufacturers
  • Health care provides, doctors, and therapists
  • Health care facilities (hospitals, wards, etc.)
  • Educational facilities that may not have provided services or turned a blind eye to bullying and other serious harassment of students
  • Negligent or malicious individuals

No amount of money can bring a loved one back, but by seeking compensation after a suicide, you may be able to help offset current and future financial losses to your family and save lives.

We Will Fight To Get You Answers and Justice

At The Law Offices of Skip Simpson, we have the experience and knowledge to get you the answers and justice you deserve after a loved one dies by suicide. With integrity and compassion, we investigate the circumstances of suicide and advise families on how to proceed during an extraordinarily difficult time.

As a nationally-recognized law firm, we help families across the United States who have lost loved ones due to suicide. If you lost a loved one to suicide, contact our law firm today to see how we can help you.

Study Reveals Significant Increase in Suicides Among Black Teens Since 2003

Depressed African American girl

Researchers with the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research have found an alarming trend related to youth suicides among black children, finding there has been a significant increase in suicides among teens ages 15 to 17 from 2003 to 2017.

Black teen girls are the most at risk

Dr. Arielle Sheftall, the lead author of the study which was published recently in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said that the annual percentage increase was much higher among black girls, who were about twice as likely to die by suicide as black boys.

Dr. Christine Crawford, a psychiatrist at Boston Medical Center and the Codman Square Health Center in Dorchester, said that in many cases black girls weren’t getting any intervention for suicidal ideation until after they end up in the emergency room due to attempting suicide. Even though treatments and interventions exist, they often do not arrive in time to help the children who are struggling.

“It’s heartbreaking because we know there are treatment options to prevent this,” Crawford said. “One reason Black youngsters sometimes don’t go through therapy is that they’re reluctant to confide in a person ‘who doesn’t look like them,’ ” Crawford said.

Of the approximately 8,000 child psychiatrists in the U.S., only 1% are people of color.

The study found that black girls were more likely to experience a breakup and would die by suicide within 24 hours of an argument, whereas black boys were more likely to experience a legal problem or face criminal charges prior to ending their life.

Girls were most likely to die by overdosing and boys were most likely to use a firearm, according to the study. In some cases, the children contacted family members before they chose to end their life, Crawford said.

“They want people to know they’re in distress,” she said, “but there is still a part of them that wants to be found, that wants to live.”

Sheftall and her team discovered that younger children between the age of 5 and 11 were more likely to have experienced family or school problems. If they had a mental health diagnosis, it was often a diagnosis of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which has several comorbidities with other mental health illnesses that may have been undiagnosed.

An attorney can help you find answers

If you or anyone you know has lost a child to suicide, The Law Offices of Skip Simpson has the experience and knowledge to investigate the circumstances of suicide and advise families on how to proceed during an extraordinarily difficult time. Our law firm is based in Texas but we serve clients nationwide.

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one who ended their life by suicide, contact attorney Skip Simpson today.

Research Reveals Teens’ Thoughts & Plans Around Suicide

Silhouette of a depressed teenage girl sitting in a hallway

Recent research by the University of Washington and New York University has shown that more than one-third of high school students who reported engaging in some sort of suicidal behavior or ideation have gone on to attempt suicide.

The research was published in the Prevention Science journal and used the data from high schools across the country that had taken the National Youth Risk Behavior survey in 2015, 2017, or 2019. The researchers focused on the results of more than 7,500 high schoolers who stated they either had suicidal thoughts, a plan to end their life, or reported attempting suicide.

Examining the risk factors

The study showed that there were several risk factors, including bullying, depression, cigarette smoking, abuse of prescription drugs, or a history of sexual violence that increased the likelihood of a student moving from simple suicidal ideation into a suicide attempt.

Identifying and isolating the behaviors and risk factors is crucial to helping ensure that prevention measures are targeted at the right people, said the study’s lead author Meghan Romanelli, an assistant professor of social work at the University of Washington.

“Most adolescents who think about suicide don’t go on to attempt it, so in the analysis, we wanted to separate out adolescents who attempted suicide from those who thought about suicide but did not attempt in order to identify what factors may have put youth at higher risk,” Romanelli said. “These differences are important because it allows us to deploy prevention and intervention efforts that are targeted to the adolescent’s level of risk.”

What the study revealed

Of the roughly 7,500 students examined in the study, about 25 percent of them said they had considered suicide. About 38% said they had created a plan to end their life but did not follow through with suicide attempted, and 35% said they’d thought about suicide, created a plan for suicide, and then attempted suicide. In addition, 3% of respondents said they had a spur-of-the-moment suicide attempt without any prior thoughts or plans.

The study also noted higher risks of suicide attempts in certain populations. Hispanic and Latino youth were 1.6 times more likely to report a suicide attempt with thoughts and plans as opposed to having suicidal thoughts only, and four times as likely to report a suicide attempt with just ideation and no plan. Young men, in general, were more likely to report attempting suicide without any thoughts or plans. A feeling of hopelessness was common, among young people who thought about suicide or had attempted suicide with thoughts and plans

Funding for the study came from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Legal help is available

Although the research can help people look for warning signs, too many people continue to lose loved ones to suicide completion. The Law Offices of Skip Simpson has the experience and knowledge to investigate the circumstances of suicide and advise families on how to proceed during an extraordinarily difficult time. Although our law firm is based in Texas, we serves clients nationwide. If you have suffered the loss of a loved one who ended their life by suicide, contact attorney Skip Simpson today.