Experts Advise: Allow Suicidal Teens to Talk about Suicide

Several psychologists and professors who specialize in adolescent psychology are trying to come up with new ways of preventing teenage suicides. The solution may be in a certain kind of talk therapy.

Teenage suicide attempts occur about two million times a year. Teens who attempt suicide become ten to 60 times more likely to die by their own hands in the future.

Dr. Barbara Stanley of Columbia University and her colleagues refused to accept the supposition that suicide prevention does not work because teenagers who enroll in it notoriously drop out.
Her group suggests that after teenagers attempt suicide, they should talk to a therapist unafraid of discussing the events that led up to the suicide attempt.
Dr. Stanley noted that most suicidal teenagers are depressed so an event that can appear trivial to the adults in their lives can be significant enough to push them over the edge

“The brains of depressed people who attempt suicide are different from those who do not,” said Dr. Stanley. “Our point of view is that while they need treatment for depression, they also need therapy tailored to help with their suicidal thoughts and behavior.”

The study appears in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry.

Mississippi Town Mulls Curfew for Teens

A proposal introduced to the Jackson, Mississippi, City Council would enact a curfew for the city’s teenagers. The city’s Planning Commission recently approved the measure:

Under the proposed new law, children ages 17 and under would have to be home by 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and by midnight on Friday and Saturday. The new statute also makes it a crime for children ages 5-17 to loiter during school hours. [Source: Clarion Ledger]

Proponents of the measure believe it would help reduce violence committed against and by teenagers.

In an interesting twist, however, the teens won’t be the ones penalized if they break curfew. Instead, parents will be assessed fines. In addition, businesses that allow young people in their establishments after the curfew can also be fined.

Study Reveals Prevalence of Sexual Activity Among Pre-Teens

Low-income city children have their first sexual intercourse around age 13, and one in four of them, ages 11 to 16 years old, are sexually active, according to research from Iowa State University.

Dr. Brenda Lohman collected data on children ages 10 to 14 in 1999, again in 2001, and again in 2006. She found that the average age of first sexual intercourse was 12.48 four boys and 13.1 for girls from low-income families in Boston, Chicago and San Antonio.

“If twelve years old was the average age, that meant that some kids were starting at ten or even younger,” she said. “A handful of kids report having sex as early as age eight or nine. … One boy reported having sexual intercourse for the first time at age nine and had fathered four children by the time he was 18.

This study appeared in the Children and Youth Services Review.

Peer Jury Program Hits 10-Year Milestone

In December 2010, an innovative effort to help troubled youth in Downers Grove, Illinois, celebrated its 10-year anniversary. Brian Slodysko of the TribLocal newspaper reported on the successes of the Downers Grove Peer Jury system:

The concept is simple: if a juvenile offender pleads guilty to committing a crime – ranging anywhere in severity from possession of alcohol to retail theft and even burglary – they are given the option of facing a jury of their peers who will then assess punishment.

“Research shows peers actually respect their peers in terms of their opinions and being held accountable,” said Lori Wrzesinski, the director of youth services for Downers Grove Township. “It basically is about what we can do to hold you accountable to ensure that you don’t repeat it.”

Lori Rhoades, a recent college grad and former Downers Grove North student said her time serving on a peer jury made her realize everybody makes mistakes.

“It changes perspective … which is how it should be, breaking down generalizations made about teens,” Rhoades said. “We tend to think certain types of people will misbehave. All kinds of people can make mistakes and learn from that and regain themselves.”

For Male Patients, Perception of Masculinity Impacts Depression Treament

A man’s idea of what it means to be masculine affects how he handles depression, according to a new study from the University of British Columbia.

Men who take a stoic approach and do not seek support from others are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs when they are depressed.
On the other hand, depressed men who believe they must provide for their families and avoid hurting them are less likely to commit suicide.

Professors John Oliffe and John Ogrodniczuk studied 38 men ages 24 to 50 years old, who were diagnosed as depressed or described themselves that way.

“Men’s strong sense of masculine roles and responsibility as a provider and protector enables men to hold on while seeking help to regain some self-control,” the researchers noted.

However, stoic men experienced more difficulties when depressed, because “instead of finding some respite from their emotional, mental and physical pain, self-harm emerged as the most common outcome of these actions.”

Canadian men have twice the suicide rate is women, although more women seek treatment for depression.

The study appears in the journal Social Science and Medicine.