Children, Teens and Suicide

Suicides among young people continue to be a severe problem. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children, adolescents, and young adults ages 15-to-24-year-olds.

Most children and adolescents who attempt suicide have a significant mental health disorder, usually depression. Among younger children, suicide attempts are often impulsive. They may be associated with feelings of sadness, confusion, anger, or problems with attention and hyperactivity.

Now, however, childhood and teen suicide statistics are complicated by the Covid Pandemic. Even though schools are now open in most communities throughout the United States, parents report that many young people do not want to return to school. While remote learning carried many disadvantages, some children found it reassuring to remain at home with the family.

Children’s suicide attempts have increased during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 

COVID-19 has led to significant changes in the dynamics of children’s suicide attempts, according to the results of a cross-sectional study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association

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“Recent studies have reported a deterioration in children’s mental health since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, with an increase in anxiety and mood disorders,” Anthony Cousien, Ph.D., of the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Paris in France, and colleagues wrote. “Rates of suicide ideation and suicide attempts among children were also higher when COVID-19–related stressors heightened in 2020. 

The researchers analyzed data of 830 children aged 15 years or younger (mean age, 13.5 years; 1:4 ratio of boys to girls) with suicide attempt history admitted to the pediatric Emergency Department of a single hospital between January 2010 and April 2021. They defined a suicide attempt as “a nonfatal self-directed potentially injurious behavior with any intent to die because of the behavior.”

Cousien and colleagues speculated that children’s specific sensitivity to mitigation measures, adverse effects on family health and economic conditions, increased screen time, and social media use or bereavement may have affected this acceleration.

Social media is also a significant risk factor for teen suicide.

Suicide rates among teenagers have seen a drastic increase from 2007 to the present. Social media has become a prevalent way of life. Another risk factor may be media accounts of suicide that romanticize or dramatize the description of suicidal deaths, possibly leading to an increased number of suicides.

Among teenagers, suicide attempts come with feelings of stress, self-doubt, pressure to succeed, financial uncertainty, disappointment, and loss. For some teens, suicide may appear to solve their problems.

Depression and suicidal feelings are treatable mental disorders. The child or adolescent needs to have their illness recognized, diagnosed, and appropriately treated with a comprehensive treatment plan.

Thoughts about suicide and suicide attempts are often associated with depression. Besides depression, other risk factors include:

  • family history of suicide attempts
  • exposure to violence
  • impulsivity
  • aggressive or disruptive behavior
  • access to firearms
  • bullying
  • feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • acute loss or rejection

Children and adolescents thinking about suicide may make openly suicidal statements or comments such as, “I wish I was dead,” or “I won’t be a problem for you much longer.” Other warning signs associated with suicide can include:

  • changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • frequent or pervasive sadness
  • withdrawal from friends, family, and regular activities
  • frequent complaints about physical symptoms often related to emotions, such as stomachaches, headaches, fatigue, etc.
  • a decline in the quality of schoolwork
  • preoccupation with death and dying

Young people thinking about suicide may also stop planning for or talking about the future. They may give away important possessions.

People often feel uncomfortable talking about suicide. However, asking your child or adolescent whether they are depressed or thinking about suicide can be helpful. Specific examples of such questions include:

  • Are you feeling sad or depressed?
  • Are you thinking about hurting or killing yourself?
  • Have you ever thought about hurting or killing yourself?

Rather than putting thoughts in your child’s head, these questions can assure that somebody cares and will give your child the chance to talk about problems.

Parents, teachers, and friends should always err on caution and safety. Any child or adolescent with suicidal thoughts or plans should be evaluated immediately by a trained mental health professional.

 No matter which boat you are in, remember that it doesn’t help to blame yourself as a parent.

Whether you are a parent, helping your teenager prevent suicide, or have lost your teenager to suicide, find a community and gather them close around you. You may find that this community is people in the church, friends, or other parents who have faced the same challenges. Keep a close connection with safe people and walk on this journey with others. Remember that you are not alone.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline

800-273-8255

Lifeline

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Catastrophic Thinking, Of Making Mountains out of Molehills

Do you make mountains out of molehills? This is a more severe issue that may appear on the surface. Whenever anyone spilled anything on the tablecloth, even just a glass of water, my grandmother would become furious when I was a boy. She was not unusual for having that reaction. Sometimes, the littlest things make people angry. One way of thinking about this concept is to realize that some of us turn the most minor incidents into catastrophes. Statistics show that altercations over trivial issues sometimes result in homicide.

To a certain extent, the tendency to make mountains out of molehills has to do with worrying and obsessive thinking. Because of the watch or clock not being precisely set on time, people with OCD become exceedingly uncomfortable, worrying about potentially terrible consequences. For those with OCD, everything must be perfect, or there can be catastrophic consequences. These people live in a world of “what if,” meaning what if the clock is set wrong, and my children get up late for school, and a terrible car accident occurs on the way to school.

This way of thinking and living makes life unbearable for those who worry and the loved ones who surround them. Graham C.L. Davey, Ph.D., conducted a piece of research on why we worry? Interviews of chronic worriers were conducted using questions such as “why worry about getting good grades in school?

*Here are some of the catastrophic consequences that chronic worriers came up with:

“I won’t live up to my expectations

I’d be disappointed in myself.                                           

I’d lose my self-confidence.                                                

My loss of self-confidence would spread to other areas of my life.       

I wouldn’t have as much control as I’d like.                     

I’d be afraid of facing the unknown.                                

I’d become very anxious.                                                   

Anxiety would lead to further loss of self-confidence.    

I wouldn’t get my confidence back.                                  

I’d feel like 1 wouldn’t control my life.    

I’d be susceptible to things that wouldn’t bother me.  

I’d become more and more anxious.                                

I’d have no control, and I’d become mentally ill.    

I’d become dependent on drugs and therapy.                

I’d always remain dependent on drugs.                          

They’d deteriorate my body.                                             

I’d be in pain.                                                                      

I’d die.                                                                                  

I’d end up in hell.”

* From Graham C.L. Davey, Ph.D. 

Another theory states that people men make mountains out of molehills when they feel aggressive and competitive. Aggressive reactions have to do with competing for status. Two men compete for the status of one over the other. In this primitive way of thinking, the most aggressive wins the girl. That is why, as stated above, some arguments over trivial things result in homicide.

Whatever way you choose to look at this, making mountains out of molehills results in frustration and misery for all concerned. It’s better the let these things go. What my grandmother should have done was smile and clean up the spill. Perhaps, if this had been her approach to life, she would not have had a heart condition. It was just an accident.

Instead of exploding, take deep breaths, say a mantra by reminding yourself, “it’s not worth it,” and see the humor in the situation.

Contact Dr. Schwartz at dransphd@aol.com

Coping Strategies for Anxiety and Stress During Corona Pandemic

Are you feeling irritable and short-tempered and getting into arguments at home? So many people are experiencing nervousness and restlessness? So many are finding it difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep? You are not alone.

There are many things about which people feel stressed, anxious, and worried. For example, Coronavirus and social unrest are causing worry and fear. Also, many have lost jobs and their salaries. One of the most challenging things that many must deal with is that it isolates them at home—having to be indoors, whether alone or even with family, is extremely difficult. As a result, I hear from many people who feel irritable, angry, sensitive, anxious, and depressed. What can people do to help themselves deal better with these problems?

Here or some suggestions for coping during this difficult time:

  • While wearing masks go out for walks, whether alone, with family, or with friends. In doing so, it is essential to remember to maintain Social distancing.
  • Avoiding alcohol is extremely important. The reports are that many people are drinking to self-medicate their problems. Rather than working as self-medication, drinking worsens the problems. It creates irritability and the tendency to get into arguments at home.
  • Social interaction is essential. The frustration is that the Coronavirus makes it difficult to socialize. While wearing masks and maintaining social distance, it is possible to mix and necessary. I encourage people to chat as much as possible while maintaining safety in my psychotherapy practice.
  • Exercise is important. I know of one person who reported that they walk around their house as much as possible, including going upstairs and downstairs.
  • Owning a dog can help. People who own dogs understand they must be what walked. Two crucial goals or achieved for those who have the dog. One important goal is getting out of the house and walking, allowing for some exercise. Besides, I always remind my clients that it’s impossible to be isolated when you own a dog. Neighbors, children, and anyone will greet and pet the dog. That is often the beginning of a friendly chat.
  • One of the best medicines in the world, for most situations, is his humor. That is why I recommend watching funny television programs. These movies are comic and email humorous cartoons to family and friends. There is nothing like making jokes, laughing, smiling, having a sense of humor, or being suitable for the body and good for the soul.
  • Listening to music is one of the most soothing it will axing things a person can do.
  • I strongly recommend meditation. There is a beautiful app named CALM. Download this app to your cell phone. Sitting or lying down and listening to some meditations is hugely relieving. The reflections are guided or purely musical and, depending on your choice, can last from 5 to 30 minutes.
  • Under stress, many people breathe in a more shallow way without realizing it’s happening. Instead, it’s essential to take a full breath, count to five, let it out, and repeat two or three times. You can feel the body relax.
  • Additional strategies include avoiding watching the news.
  • Stretch to relax muscle tension—deep muscle relaxation techniques.
  • Nature helps a great deal, such as walking in the local park.
  • Avoid turning to alcohol to self-medicate. That only worsens all the symptoms mentioned, including domestic violence and child abuse.

People are experiencing feeling shut into their homes as frustrating. There is evidence that this has resulted in increased alcohol consumptions, domestic violence, and child abuse. It is essential to turn to psychotherapy for this and all the other reasons mentioned if the different strategies do not work.

It may seem silly, but it’s also important to smile. An old song, “smile, and the entire world smiles with you.” It is accurate, and evidence points out that smiling helps us feel better.