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March 10, 2015

CDC survey: 17% of high-school students contemplated suicide

Parents and educators can help

Seventy percent of all deaths among people ages 10 to 24 result from four causes, according to the 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  Suicide is on that list

As many as 17 percent of high-school students said they had considered taking their own lives in the year prior to the 2013 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey.

The pressure to be perfect, paired with increased bullying incidents, an overbearing class workload, extended testing requirements have been found to be part of the problem, and schools are becoming increasingly aware of students’ mental health issues, prompting response from public and organizational sectors.

"School is also a very complicated place now," Dr. Jeff Bostic, director of school psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital and assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, said via Edutopia. "Kids are being told they're not going to have a good quality of life if they don't do every little thing exactly right. They're scared to death, and therefore rates of depression and anxiety are up."

The University of Pennsylvania formed a task force in 2014 following six student suicides in 15 months, including the death of Madison Holleran, a 19-year-old student and track athlete who was depressed and jumped off a parking garage in 2014.

Holleran’s parents have since started a campaign to help students dealing with mental health issues.

Similarly, the federal government's New Freedom Commission on Mental Health and the American School Health Association both announced support for increased funding for mental health services in schools.

Strategies for Helping Depressed Teens

• Give frequent feedback on academic, social and behavioral performance.
• Teach the student how to set goals and self-monitor
Teach problem-solving skills.
• Coach the student in ways to organize, plan and execute tasks demanded daily or weekly in school.
• Develop modifications and accommodations to respond to the student's fluctuations in mood, ability to concentrate or side effects of medication. Assign one individual to serve as a primary contact and coordinate interventions.
• Give the student opportunities to engage in social interactions.
• Frequently monitor whether the student has suicidal thoughts.
• Develop a home-school communication system to share information on the student's academic, social and emotional behavior and any developments concerning medication or side effects.

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

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