In a new study published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, researchers found that traumas like sexual assault and bullying can lead to more suicides in teens. With the recent suicide of Canadian teen Amanda Todd, which she explained in a suicide note via YouTube post, this study certainly has a recent example to back up its claim.
In fact, the researchers from the University of New Hampshire who conducted the study say that teen suicide is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. for teens. Statistics that show that from 1999 to 2006, at least 11 percent of all youth death in children aged 12 to 19 were due to suicide, which is equivalent to at least 16,000 deaths annually.
As part of the study, researchers conducted a survey that showed that 4.3 percent of the kids they spoke to admitted to thinking about suicide a month before they were interviewed. As in Amanda Todd’s case, bullying is often cited as a reason for the depression that leads to suicides.
“Peer-victimized youth had almost 2.4 times the risk of suicidal ideation, those sexually assaulted in the past year had about 3.4 times the risk and those who were maltreated had almost 4.4 times the risk of suicidal ideation,” the study’s authors note.
Many times, teens are reluctant to share their traumatic experiences (especially those with peers) with their parents for fear that the parent’s reaction will make the bullying situations worse. And while many doctors prescribe antidepressants like Paxil or Effexor to fight children’s depression, those medications can increase their risks of suicide instead of curbing them. Research already links this type of medication to serious effects like violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior and birth defects (PPHN, oral lefts, spina bifida) in babies born to mothers who take the drugs while pregnant.
From this perspective, it may feel like there is little to be done about lowering the incidents of teen suicide. However, there is hope. Many doctors are finding alternatives to prescription medications like Paxil or Effexor to help youths and adults cope with their symptoms of depression.