Archive for May, 2013

Research Finds Kids at Risk of Suicide Have Access to Guns

Dallas, TX suicide lawyer Skip Simpson knows that those who use a gun in a suicide attempt are much more likely to be effective than those who try to kill themselves via other methods. This is why it is especially alarming that new research shows many kids considering suicide have access to guns in the home.

As NBC News reports, researchers have found that as many as one in five kids who is at risk of suicide lives in a home where guns are accessible. It is very important that parents and mental health professionals watch for signs of suicide when there are guns in the home in order to ensure that kids are not put at risk.

Access to Guns Dangerous for Suicidal Teens

Suicide is the number three cause of death for young people between the ages of 10 and 24. In some states like Washington number 2 cause. Each year, around 4,600 kids die by suicide, with 45 percent of those kids using guns in their suicides.

Unfortunately, when a young adult attempts to use a gun to die by suicide, this is much more likely to result in death than other methods. People who use pills or who cut themselves are successful in actually killing themselves only three percent of the time, in large part because these methods take a longer time to work and are harder to accomplish.

A gun, on the other hand, can result in instant death or grave injury.  This is why almost half of all successful completed suicides were done with a firearm.

With young adults at greater risk for suicide and with guns the most lethal suicide method, the high number of suicidal teens with access to guns is beyond disturbing.

The Research

The information on the number of teens with access to guns was presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies meeting. Researchers obtained their data using simple questionnaires that were handed out to kids visiting emergency rooms. The results of the questions indicated that:

  • 29 percent of the kids who answered the question were at risk for suicide. Especially disturbing was the fact that one in ten kids who were at the emergency room for reasons other than psychiatric complaints were still found to be at risk of suicide.
  • 17 percent reported that there were guns in or around their homes.
  • 31 percent of kids who were at risk of suicide and who had guns in their homes knew how to access the guns and the same percentage knew where the bullets were kept.
  • 15 percent of suicidal teens knew where both the guns and the bullets were kept.

As this data shows, there are many kids who are potentially at risk of dying by suicide whose parents have guns in the home. Worse, a teen may be suicidal and parents may be unaware of this and thus not able to monitor the young person or make sure the guns are properly and securely stored.

It is essential that parents know when their kids are at risk of suicide in order to ensure that these young people cannot easily access guns. Of course young kids should never be able to easily access guns. Mental health professionals need to be on the lookout for signs of danger so they can let parents know when action needs to be taken to prevent a potential death-by-suicide.

The worn out quote by LaPierre that “the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is with a good guy with a gun,” fails to address adults and children at risk for suicide who are not bad guys but people who are overwhelmed at the moment.

If you lost a loved  one to suicide, contact the Dallas Law Offices of Skip Simpson, dedicated to holding mental health counselors accountable. Call 214-618-8222.

Study Shows Alarming Rise in Suicide Rates

Suicide rates have traditionally been the highest among teens and the elderly, but a new study shows a surprising rise in suicides among the middle aged. NBC News discussed this disturbing trend, citing a CDC study showing that the number of suicides for people between the ages of 35 and 64 has risen dramatically.

Dallas, TX suicide attorney Skip Simpson knows that the number of suicide-related deaths now surpasses the number of deaths in car accidents. A larger number of these deaths are occurring among middle-aged Americans, leading experts to speculate about what is driving this dramatic increase in suicides.

Suicide Rates Rising Among the Middle Aged

The recent CDC data on suicides shows that:

  • Between 1999 and 2010, there has been a 28 percent rise in suicide rates for people between the ages of 35 and 64. At the same time, suicide rates for young people and those over 65 have remained steady.
  • Those ages 50 to 54 and 55 to 59 had the biggest increase in suicides, with the fatality rate increasing by 48 percent and 55 percent respectively.
  • In 2010, 33,687 people died from car accidents while 38,364 died from suicide. Traditionally, car accident deaths have been a top cause of fatalities so this new change reflects a distressing increase in the number of suicides.
  • The suicide rate for middle aged Americans has increased the most among non-Hispanic whites, American Indians and Native Alaskans.
  • There has been an increase in the number of suicides by hanging, suffocations, poisoning and self-inflicted gunshot wounds.
  • While men are still more likely than women to kill themselves, suicide rates increased by 32 percent for women and by 27 percent for men.

The increases in suicides among these specific sectors of the population indicate that the higher number of deaths may be related to bad economic situations.

While the CDC does not address the reason for the rising suicide rates, others argue that both unemployment and home foreclosures lead to an increased number of people taking their own lives.

While recessions in the past have not generally resulted in a major increase in suicides, there is a clear link between suicide and unemployment with the unemployed having between two and four times the suicide rate of the employed. Further, the current high number of foreclosures is unprecedented, and it is clear that both a job loss and the risk of losing a home would create a situation of high stress.

Identifying Suicide Risks

Middle-aged Americans who are coping with depression and stress as a result of their job losses or foreclosures may be better equipped to get help for themselves from mental health professionals than teens or the elderly. After all, people in this age group likely have more knowledge of the types of mental health help available than teens do and have more control over their own healthcare choices.

The middle-aged may also be more mobile and more able to see a psychiatrist or psychologist than someone who is elderly. Therapy has also become more widely accepted and there is greater understanding of depression and mental health than in the past.

Yet, despite the fact that getting help may be easier, the rising suicide rates show that it is either not effective or that those considering suicide aren’t reaching out for assistance. Another likely consideration suicide rates are not falling but increasing is because of a lack of suicide training in the mental health field. This point is made in Preventing Suicide through Improved Training in Suicide Risk Assessment and Care: an American Association of Suicidology Task Force Report Addressing Serious Gaps in U.S. Mental Health Training, Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior 42(3) June 2012, authored by seven top suicidologists and Skip Simpson.

When someone does seek help, it is important for the mental health professionals to be aware of the increased suicide risks among the middle-aged and to take action if there are red flags. Since most suicide prevention programs are aimed at the young and the elderly, preventing suicides among the middle-aged may be largely uncharted territory for some professionals.

If you lost a loved  one to suicide, contact the Dallas Law Offices of Skip Simpson, dedicated to holding mental health counselors accountable. Call  214-618-8222.

Youth Risk Survey Shows Surprisingly High Suicide Risk

Since 1998, the Youth Risk Survey has been conducted across Massachusetts. Unfortunately, this year’s results showed a surprisingly high suicide risk among young people. As the Harvard Press reports, parents were shocked to learn that many teens had attempted or considered suicide.

Skip Simpson is a Dallas, TX suicide attorney who knows that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people. Unfortunately, many parents are unaware of the extent of the teen suicide risk. Recognizing that suicide is a major problem among young people is the first step to ensuring that kids get the help they need.

Teen Suicide Risk

According to the 2013 Youth Risk survey:

  • Fourteen percent of females and 12 percent of males in grades 9-12 indicated they had seriously considered suicide in the past twelve months.
  • Five percent of males and four percent of females in grades 9-12 indicated that they had attempted suicide in the past year.
  • Students in the class of 2014 were most likely to have seriously considered suicide in the prior year. As many as 16 percent of students in this grade level indicated that they had thought seriously about taking their own life.
  • Students in the class of 2013 were most likely to have attempted suicide in the prior year. Seven percent of students in these grade levels responding to the survey said they had tried to kill themselves.

The study, therefore, shows that many young people who responded are potentially at risk of dying by suicide if they act upon their suicidal tendencies or if they follow through and make a subsequent attempt to take their own life.

Local school districts have attempted to take proactive steps to curb the teen suicide risk that exists. Their efforts include a group of guidance counselors who meet weekly to discuss students who are potentially at-risk. Health and wellness courses also exist that are intended to cater to the needs of students, which will hopefully give kids an outlet if there are things that are troubling them.

Parents Need to be Aware of the Risks

While school involvement is important, it is essential for parents to be aware of the high risk of teen suicide and to be watchful of signs of suicidal tendencies in their children. Unfortunately, it can be very tricky to separate normal teen angst from a real risk of suicide, and parents are often not equipped to see and evaluate the signs of suicide in their children.

For those parents who have reason to suspect that their children are at-risk, seeking help from mental health professionals is typically the best course of action. Mental health professionals offering either in-patient or out-patient treatment should have special training in identifying a serious risk of suicide and  have a professional obligation both to warn of a potentially serious threat and also to help those who are contemplating death by suicide. Sadly many mental health professionals are not adequately trained in suicide. When parents meet with mental health professionals it is wise to ask the clinician what specific training they have in suicide prevention. Don’t be embarrassed to ask. If you are not satisfied with the clinician’s answer contact the American Association of Suicidology for help.

By getting help for kids who are struggling, parents can hopefully ensure that their children will not become one of the large percentage of teens who tries to take their own life.

If you lost a loved  one to suicide, contact the Dallas Law Offices of Skip Simpson, dedicated to holding mental health counselors accountable. Call 214-618-8222.