Suicide Prevention Center


A FRESH START

  1. Social Sciences Courses
University of California, Berkeley Logo

The Science of Happiness

The first MOOC to teach positive psychology. Learn science-based principles and practices for a happy, meaningful life.

507,827 already enrolled!

Estimated 11 weeks

4–5 hours per week

Self-paced

Progress at your own speed

Enroll now

About this course

“A free eight-week Science of Happiness course that will offer practical, research-backed tips on living a happy and meaningful life.” – The Huffington Post

We all want to be happy, and there are countless ideas about what happiness is and how we can get some. But not many of those ideas are based on science. That’s where this course comes in.

“The Science of Happiness” is the first MOOC to teach the ground-breaking science of positive psychology, which explores the roots of a happy and meaningful life. Students will engage with some of the most provocative and practical lessons from this science, discovering how cutting-edge research can be applied to their own lives. Created by UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, the course will zero in on a fundamental finding from positive psychology: that happiness is inextricably linked to having strong social connections and contributing to something bigger than yourself–the greater good. Students will learn about the cross-disciplinary research supporting this view, spanning the fields of psychology, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and beyond.

What’s more, “The Science of Happiness” offers students practical strategies for tapping into and nurturing their own happiness, including trying several research-backed activities that foster social and emotional well-being, and exploring how their own happiness changes along the way.

The course’s co-instructors, Dacher Keltner and Emiliana Simon-Thomas, are not only leading authorities on positive psychology but also gifted teachers skilled at making science fun and personal. They’ll be joined by world-renowned experts discussing themes like empathy, mindfulness, and gratitude–experts including Barbara Fredrickson, Paul Ekman, Sonja Lyubomirsky, and Jon Kabat-Zinn. Health professionals who register can earn continuing education units for their participation.

Consider signing up for this course with a friend or group, and use the buddy system to stay on track.

NOTE: This course is a self-paced course on edX.

  • Language: English
  • Video Transcript: English

What you’ll learn

  • What happiness really means and why it matters to you
  • How to increase your own happiness and foster happiness in others
  • Why social connections, kindness, and community are key to happiness
  • Which mental habits are most conducive to happiness and how mindfulness can help

About the instructors

Dacher Keltner, Director, Greater Good Science Center
• UC Berkeley
,

Emiliana Simon-ThomasScience Director, Greater Good
Science Center • UC Berkeley



Learn To Play the Electric Guitar

Available in colors shown Questions, contact the Customer Care Team: AdolescentMentalHealthCenter@outlook.com

$129.00


Join our daily meetings. For more info contact the Customer Care Team AdolescentMentalHealthCenter@outlook.com

edX

‘Talk to me’: Improving
mental health and suicide
prevention in young adults…Schools and Partners:CurtinXCourse


Understanding Suicide Risk Among Children and Pre-teens: A Synthesis Workshop

NIMH convened a four-part virtual research roundtable series, “Risk, Resilience, & Trajectories in Preteen Suicide.” The roundtables took place between January and April 2021, and culminated in a synthesis meeting in June, 2021. The series brought together a diverse group of expert panelists to assess the state of the science and short- and longer-term research priorities related to preteen suicide risk and risk trajectories. Panelists’ expertise was wide ranging and included youth suicide risk assessment and preventive interventions, developmental psychopathology, child and adolescent mood and anxiety disorders, family and peer relationships, how social and cultural contexts influence youth’s trajectories, biostatistical and computational methods, multilevel modeling, and longitudinal data analysis.


Understanding Suicide Risk Among Children and Pre-teens: A Synthesis Workshop
Date: June 15
Time: 12:30-2:00 PM ET
Location: Virtual


 Hands holding across a table.

On June 15, 2021, NIMH will convene a synthesis workshop culminating the work of three research roundtables focused on understanding suicide risk and risk trajectories among children and pre-teens, including groups with recent increases in risk.

The synthesis workshop will summarize the state of the science and highlight research priorities related to this critical topic. The goal of the series is to ultimately inform identification of at-risk youth and timing and targets for intervening.

Register



Teenage suicide in the United States

Wikipedia

The suicide rate in the United States remains comparatively high for the 15 to 24 age group with 6,241 suicides in this age range in 2017, making it the second leading cause of death for that age range.

In the United States, for the year 2005, the suicide rate for both males and females age 24 and below was lower than the rate for ages 25 and up.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide is considered the second leading cause of death among college students, the second leading cause of death for people ages 25–34, and the fourth leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 18 and 65. In 2015, the CDC also stated that an estimated 9.3 million adults, which is roughly 4% of the United States population, had suicidal thoughts in one year alone. 1.3 million adults 18 and older attempted suicide in one year, with 1.1 million making plans to commit suicide. Looking at younger teenagers, suicide is the third leading cause of death of individuals aged from 10 to 14. Males and females are known to have different suicidal tendencies. For example, males take their lives almost four times the rate females do. Males also commit approximately 77.9% of all suicides, however, the female population is more likely to have thoughts of suicide than males. Males more commonly use a firearm to commit suicide, while females commonly use a form of poison. College students aged 18–22 are less likely to attempt suicide than teenagers. The most common the suicide method among the female aged 15 to 24 is suffocation according to Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

A recent study by the CDC with the help of Johns Hopkins UniversityHarvard, and Boston Children’s Hospital has revealed that suicide rates dropping in certain states has been linked to the legalization of same sex marriage in those same states. Suicide rates as a whole fell about 7% but the rates among specifically gaylesbian, and bisexual teenagers fell at a rate of 14%. In 2013, an estimated 494,169 people were treated in emergency departments for self-inflicted, nonfatal injuries, which left an estimated $10.4 billion in combined medical and work loss costs.

Suicide differs through the race and ethnic backgrounds. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention ranked suicide as the 8th leading cause for American Indians/Alaska NativesHispanic students in grades 9–12 have the following percentages: having seriously considered attempting suicide (18.9%), having made a plan about how they would attempt suicide (15.7%), having attempted suicide (11.3%), and having made a suicide attempt that resulted in an injury, poisoning, or overdose that required medical attention (4.1%). These percentages are consistently higher than white and black students.

Potential signs include threatening the well-being of oneself and others through physical violence. Other potentially serious threats could include a shared willingness to run away from home, as well as the damaging of property. Individuals may also give away most to all personal belongings, reference suicide or suicidal thought on social media, or various other online platforms, increase their use of drugs or alcohol, sleep too little or too much, or may display extreme mood swings. Parents witnessing such threats are recommended to immediately speak with their child and seek immediate mental health evaluation if further threats are made.

Population differences

Causes in teenage suicide

Teenage suicide is not caused by any one factor, but likely by a combination of them. Depression can play a massive role in teenage suicide. Some contributing factors include:

Eating disorders have the highest correlation with a suicide rate of any mental illness, most commonly affecting teenagers (since data is correlational it is not possible to say with that A causes B, vice versa it may be possible a third variable is causing both, see Correlation and dependence). Teenagers with Eating Disorders’ suicide risk is about 15%. Perceived lack of parental interest is also a major factor in teenage suicide. According to one study, 90% of suicidal teenagers believed their families did not understand them.

Depression is the most common cause of suicide. About 75% of those individuals who commit suicide are depressed. Depression is caused by a number of factors, from chemical imbalances to psychological make-up to environmental influences.

There is a correlation between the use of social media and the increase in mental illness and teen suicide. Recent studies are showing that there is a link between using social media platforms and depression and anxiety. A recent national survey of 1787 young adults looked at the use of 11 different social media platforms. The survey showed that the teens that used between 7 and 11 platforms were three times at risk for depression or anxiety. Depression is one of the leading causes of suicide. Another problem with teens and social media is cyberbullying. When teens are on social media that can say whatever they want about anybody and they do not feel there are any repercussions for their actions. They do not have to look their victims in the eyes and see the hurt and torment they are causing. The link between cyberbullying and teen suicide is one reason that people are trying to criminalize cyberbullying. In 2011 the US Center for Disease Control showed that 13.7% of teens that reported being cyberbullied had attempted suicide.

Suicide prevention

Main article: Suicide preventionNational Suicide Prevention Lifeline, a crisis line in the United States and Canada

Means reduction

Johnson and Coyne-Beasley have argued that limiting young people’s access to lethal means, such as firearms, has reduced means-specific suicide rates.(However, they found that “[m]inimum purchase-age and possession-age laws were not associated with statistically significant reductions in suicide rates among youth aged 14 through 20 years”.) A 2004 study based on suicides between 1976 and 2001 found an 8.3% reduction in suicides by 14- to 17-year-olds with the implementation of state child access prevention (CAP) laws. Child access prevention laws were put in place with the intention to reduce gun related deaths of those under the age of 17. CAP laws first focus is on negligent storage of firearms to encourage gun owners to safely store weapons and limit accessibility. CAP laws differ from state to state but can carry felony charges if there is an incident of negligent storage. The second focus is on the reckless provision of firearms which refers to children being given guns then having an accident. These laws were a response to high volumes of children committing suicide, crimes, and accidents with the highest number of deaths in 1993. The highest rate per 100,000 was 4.87 children killed in firearm related incidents in 1993. The effects of these laws brought down firearm related incidents to 1.87 per 100,000 by 2009 which was a reduction from over 3000 deaths to 1400.

Suicide awareness programs

School-based youth suicide awareness programs have been developed to increase high-school students’ awareness of the problem, provide knowledge about the behavioral characteristics of teens at risk (i.e., screening lists), and describe available treatment or counseling resources. However, the American Surgeon General David Satcher warned in 1999 that “indiscriminate suicide awareness efforts and overly inclusive screening lists may promote suicide as a possible solution to ordinary distress or suggest that suicidal thoughts and behaviors are normal responses to stress.” The 1991 study Satcher cited (reference 45 in the report) for this claim, however, surveyed only two schools over 18 months, and the study’s authors concluded that the suicide awareness program did not affect. Satcher’s claim, while it may be correct, was not based on a consensus among public health professionals. The Canadian journal of public health references 9 studies being done over the effects of awareness programs on teenagers. These studies were mainly conducted in the US showing 5 of them having positive effects on teenagers making them more likely to seek help. However, there was 1 study that had a negative impact making teenagers aware that suicide was a possible option rather than dealing with their problems. This study also found that males are more likely to suggest suicide as a solution rather than females.

Threats of suicide

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention advocates taking suicide threats seriously. Seventy-five percent of all suicides are of people who have given some warning of their intentions to a friend or family member. SAVE or the Suicide voices of education foundation states that threats of suicide are the main warning factors for someone taking their own life. Warning factors include planning a suicide, talking about a committing suicide, or looking for weapons to harm themselves. These signs can mean that a person is in need of immediate attention from health officials or a suicide prevention organization. People who are at risk for suicide maybe resistant to admit they have suicidal intentions because of the stigma that comes with mental illness. This is another obstacle of suicide prevention because people don’t want to be labeled by their mental illness. Ways to help someone who is making threats is recommending they talk to their family, religious leaders, clinical professionals, and suicide prevention organizations.

Suicide survivors

SAVE refers to people who have been affected by suicide whether a friend or family member as suicide survivors. Suicide begets suicide because the loss of a loved one can place that person at risk to take their own life. A 1993 study showed that suicide survivors had increased thoughts of suicide and other psychological problems such as PTSD. Clusters of suicides are often found in communities because it is a mental contagion that can influence others to commit the same act. To prevent clusters, the CDC created guidelines to intervene with those effected by these incidents. The people considered to have had a “Close” relationship with the victim should be given counseling as soon as possible and then be referred to any additional treatment if needed. The section below list treatments for at people at Risk.

Treatment

A common treatment for a young, suicidal patient is a combination of drug-based treatment (e.g. imipramine or fluoxetine) with a ‘talking-based’ therapy, such as referral to a cognitive behaviour therapist. This kind of therapy concentrates on modifying self-destructive and irrational thought processes. In a crisis situation professional help can be sought, either at hospital or a walk-in clinic. There are also several telephone help numbers for help on teenage suicide, depending on one’s location (country/state). In the US, 1-800-SUICIDE will connect to the nearest support hotline. Sometimes emergency services can be contacted.


Youth suicide

is when a young person, generally categorized as someone below the legal age of majority, deliberately ends their own life. Rates of attempted and completed youth suicide in Western societies and other countries are high. Youth suicide attempts are more common among girls, but adolescent males are the ones who usually carry out suicide. Suicide rates in youths have nearly tripled between the 1960s and 1980s. For example, in Australia suicide is second only to motor vehicle accidents as its leading cause of death for people aged 15–25, and according to the National Institute for Mental Healthsuicide is the third leading cause of death among teens in the United States.

Table of youth suicide rates (per 100,000)

CountryYear of DataRate of MalesRate of FemalesTotal
Sri Lanka198643.949.346.5
Lithuania200238.48.823.9
Russian Federation200238.58.323.6
Kazakhstan200231.210.521.0
Luxembourg200223.58.216.0
New Zealand200022.38.215.3
El Salvador199313.215.814.5
Belarus200123.63.914.0
Estonia200224.11.913.2
Turkmenistan199816.68.812.8
Ukraine200019.64.912.4
Ireland200019.84.312.3
Mauritius200010.112.511.3
Norway200115.36.210.9
Canada200016.35.210.8
Latvia200216.94.410.8
Kyrgyzstan200215.24.810.0
Austria200215.13.89.6
Trinidad and Tobago19948.910.59.6
Finland200215.03.89.5
Uzbekistan200012.56.49.5
Belgium199714.53.99.3
Cuba19966.112.59.2
Ecuador19916.911.49.1
Australia200113.83.88.9
Singapore20019.27.88.5
Poland200114.12.48.4
Switzerland200012.64.08.4
Croatia200214.02.18.2
USA200013.02.78.0
Slovenia198712.03.17.6
Hungary200211.23.87.5
Japan20008.83.86.4
Uruguay19908.33.96.2
Bulgaria20029.22.35.8
Czech Republic20019.51.85.7
Argentina19967.14.05.6
Costa Rica19957.14.05.6
Germany20018.72.45.6
Thailand19946.15.15.6
Colombia19946.74.25.5
Venezuela19947.13.85.5
Republic of Korea20015.94.95.4
Hong Kong19995.15.35.2
France19997.52.55.0
Denmark19999.00.74.9
Israel19998.70.04.9
Romania20027.02.24.7
Netherlands20007.41.84.6
Sweden20015.72.84.3
Brazil*19955.72.64.2
Puerto Rico19928.30.04.2
United Kingdom19996.51.84.2
Republic of Moldova20027.11.14.1
China*19993.24.84.0
Slovakia20025.81.93.9
Chile19946.21.33.8
Mexico19955.12.33.7
Spain20005.31.43.4
Panama19874.61.63.1
Albania20012.83.33.0
Dominican Republic19852.73.22.9
Italy20003.61.72.7
Macedonia20001.23.72.4
Tajikistan19993.30.92.1
Portugal20002.60.91.8
Greece19992.70.61.7
Peru19831.30.71.0

Information taken from World Psychiatry, the official journal of the World Psychiatric Association. Numbers are per 100,000.


Understanding How B Complex Vitamins Impact Your Health

By Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN, NP

What Are B Complex Vitamins?

With the exception of vitamin C, all known water-soluble vitamins are B vitamins. Water soluble means that your body can’t store these vitamins, so you have to replenish these vitamins through diet or supplements.

There are eight vitamins in the B complex family: B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 niacin, B5 (pantothenic acid), B6 (pyridoxine), B7 (biotin), B9 (folate) and B12 (cobalamins). All have distinct functions, and all are important to good health.

Why Are B Vitamins Important?

There is no doubt that you’ve heard that B vitamins are essential for good health, but do you know why? Some are better understood and more often discussed, but all are important to the overall picture of your health. B vitamins impact metabolism by converting nutrients into energy your body can use, they act as antioxidants, are involved in hormone and cholesterol production, cell growth and division, and do so much more. B vitamins have also been shown to impact mood, including anxiety and depression. If you’re low in certain B vitamins, you may feel extreme fatigue, or have cognitive difficulties, including foggy thinking and short term memory loss.

Each B complex vitamin works a little differently, and impacts different aspects of health.

Superfood Yummy-Gummies B-Complex

30 ct Questions, contact the Customer Care Team AdolescentMentalHealthCenter@outlook.com

$38.00

Avoiding Vitamin B Complex Deficiencies

Vitamin B complex deficiencies are relatively rare. If you know what symptoms to look out for, and you understand the importance of maintaining a diet rich in the full range of B complex vitamins, you will be far less likely to develop deficiencies. There are many whole, unrefined food sources for B vitamins, including lean meats, especially organ meat like beef liver, dairy products, legumes, leafy green vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains and brewer’s yeast. Mushrooms, potatoes, brown rice and fish also contain some B vitamins.

Getting all the vitamins we need from food can be tricky. The way things are grown today, along with our cultural leaning towards the convenience of fast foods and processed products, can sabotage our efforts. Strive to change eating habits and choose whole natural foods as often as possible. But changing habits takes time, and you might need a boost, especially if you have signs of B complex vitamin deficiencies. Superfood Yummy-Gummies B-Complex contains all of the B complex vitamins in large enough amounts to combat deficiencies.

Let’s talk about each one, to better understand the range of health issues impacted by B complex vitamins:

B1 (Thiamin)

Thiamin aids in changing carbohydrates into energy in the body, and also has a hand in muscle contraction and nervous system functioning. Thiamin deficiency can cause a whole range of symptoms, including weakness, fatigue, nerve damage, and sometimes even psychosis. People who abuse alcohol are at particular risk of being unable to absorb thiamin from food. Some good food sources for thiamin include spinach, kale, wheat germ, sunflower seeds, and pork.

B2 (Riboflavin)

Another essential B vitamin is riboflavin. Riboflavin works in conjunction with other B vitamins, and is important for growth and production of red blood cells, as well as helping to release energy from proteins in the body. Riboflavin also acts as an antioxidant. Though deficiency is uncommon due to the abundance of riboflavin available through food, a severe deficiency may cause mouth sores, skin disorders, sore throat and selling of mucus membranes. B2 is often used as a treatment for migraine headaches. Some good dietary sources of riboflavin include beef, organ meats, almonds, brussels sprouts, and mushrooms.

B3 (Niacin)

Niacin helps with functioning of your digestive system, skin and nerves and is important in converting food to energy. Links to cardiovascular disease have led to small daily doses of nicotinic acid being used to treat unbalanced cholesterol levels. A niacin deficiency can cause pellagra, which includes digestive issues, inflammation of skin, and mental impairments. But too much B3 is also a problem, and can cause such serious issues as liver damage, increased glucose levels, and peptic ulcers, so it’s important to talk with your health care professional before supplementing with B3. Good food sources include chicken, tuna, eggs, and green vegetables.

B5 (Pantothenic acid) and B7 (biotin)

These two B complex vitamins help the body metabolize your food, which makes them important to the growth process and in making fatty acids. B5 is also connected to the production of hormones and cholesterol. Though extremely rare, a B5 deficiency can cause a tingling in the feet called paresthesia. Good sources of B5 include fish, liver, yogurt and avocado. Biotin also regulates gene expression. If you don’t have enough, you might experience muscle pain, dermatitis, or swelling of the tongue. Good sources of B7 include yeast, eggs, salmon and liver.

B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 is one you hear about often. It helps create antibodies, maintain nerve functioning, metabolize amino acids, break down proteins, keep blood sugar within normal ranges, and red blood cell production, and creating neurotransmitters. Though deficiency is uncommon in the US, symptoms can include confusion, depression, irritability, and mouth and tongue sores. It’s important to be careful not to get too much B6, as large doses can cause movement difficulty, numbness and sensory changes. Best food sources of B6 include chickpeas, salmon and potatoes. Many women on birth control pills, the patch or ring, can become deficient in B6 in particular.

B9 (Folate)

Folate is one of the most talked about B vitamins. It’s required for cell growth and amino acid metabolism, blood cell formation (both red and white), and cell division. Folate is particularly important before and during pregnancy, to help prevent birth defects in the baby’s brain or spine. A folate deficiency can cause fatigue, irritability, poor growth and anemia. In severe cases, it can also contribute to low white blood cells and platelets. The MTHFR genetic mutation can affect how your body metabolizes folate, leading to folate deficiency or other health problems. Folate is found in leafy greens, liver, and beans. This is becoming a much talked about topic, and will be discussed in a future article.

B12 (Cobalamine)

B12 is another often talked about B vitamin, particularly as we age. The older we get, the more difficult it is for our bodies to absorb vitamin B12 from food. Digestive disorders can also be a factor in being unable to absorb enough of this vitamin. This vitamin is vital to neurological functioning, as well as playing an important role in metabolizing proteins and forming red blood cells. B12 deficiency can cause anemia and pernicious anemia, balance issues, numbness in arms and legs, and general weakness. B12 is found in animal sources, such as meat, eggs, seafood and dairy products. We see B12 deficiencies in those that are vegetarians, thus making it so important to add this important vitamin.


Questionnaire



The Science of Happiness
The Science of Happiness
BerkeleyX
Enroll Today


Military suicides went down in the last year, but 2020 may end up reversing that trend
Military suicides dropped last year, but preliminary numbers show that 2020 could reverse that progress.


NIMH Social Disconnection and Late Life Suicide Series

Logo for the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

Event Summaries About

DISORDERS

POPULATIONS

PREVENTION

RESEARCH

OTHER

NIMH Livestream Event: Suicide Prevention Strategies

Suicide is a major public health concern. More than 48,000 people die by suicide each year in the United States, and it was the 10th leading cause of death overall in 2018. Suicide is complicated and tragic, but it is often preventable.

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a time to help raise awareness and share information about this important public health concern. Although the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on suicide is still unknown, the slow but steady increases in the U.S. suicide rate remain a concern.

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will host a livestream event on , to discuss the latest in suicide prevention research, including ways to identify risk, and effective prevention strategies. Joshua Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., Director of NIMH, will moderate this discussion with Jane Pearson, Ph.D., Special Advisor to the NIMH Director on Suicide Research, and Stephen O’Connor, Ph.D., chief of the Suicide Prevention Research Program in the NIMH Division of Services and Intervention Research.

Participating is easy.

  • Watch the livestream event on NIMH’s Facebook or Twitter feeds. You must have either a Facebook or Twitter account to watch.
  • Follow NIMH on Facebook or Twitter for updates on the livestream event and other information about mental health research.
  • Refresh NIMH’s Facebook or Twitter feeds at 2 p.m. ET on September 23rd to watch the livestream discussion.

The livestream will be archived on NIMH’s website and Facebook page so you can access it after the event is over.

Note: The experts cannot provide specific medical advice or referrals. Please consult with a qualified health care provider for diagnosis, treatment, and answers to your personal questions. If you need help finding a provider, visit www.nimh.nih.gov/findhelp. If you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255); En Español 1-888-628-9454.

Contact Us

The National Institute of Mental Health Information Resource Center

Available in English and Español

 Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. EST, M-F

 Phone:  1-866-615-6464
 TTY:  1-301-443-8431
 TTY (toll-free):  1-866-415-8051

 Live Online Chat:  Talk to a representative
 Email:  nimhinfo@nih.gov
 Fax:  1-301-443-4279

Mail:  National Institute of Mental Health
Office of Science Policy, Planning, and Communications
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6200, MSC 9663
Bethesda, MD 20892-9663

Follow Us

Subscribe to NIMH Email Updates

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) is part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Addressing the Crisis of Black Youth Suicide

By Joshua Gordon

Each September, people in the U.S. and around the world observe Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, a time to help raise awareness and share information about this important public health concern. As director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), I have made suicide prevention one of my top priorities, and although I have written about suicide in the past, I wanted to revisit this topic to bring attention to this critical area of concern.

One often overlooked aspect of the rising rates of suicide in the U.S. is its impact on youth — and in particular, its impact on Black youth. Black people face increased rates of risk factors, including experiences of racism, higher rates of unemployment and financial and food insecurity, disparities in other aspects of health, and limited access to care, all of which result in an increased burden of mental illness in black communities. Despite this heavy burden, Black people and individuals in other racial and ethnic minority groups have historically had relatively low rates of suicide. But this has been changing recently, especially for Black youth. As of 2018, suicide became the second leading cause of death in Black children aged 10-14, and the third leading cause of death in Black adolescents aged 15-19. By combining data from 2001 to 2015, researchers were able to examine suicides among children ages 12 and younger and found that Black children were more likely to die by suicide than their White peers.

This crisis of Black youth suicide is beginning to receive the attention it deserves. Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.) and the Congressional Black Caucus deserve credit for raising awareness of the issue and for establishing the Emergence Taskforce on Black Youth Suicide and Mental Health. Their report, Ring the Alarm: The Crisis of Black Youth Suicide in America, was released in December 2019. This report describes key research findings related to suicide among Black youth. Most importantly, it provides research, policy, and practice recommendations to address this issue, such as improving research funding of minority scientists and increasing funding of research focused on Black youth suicide and Black youth mental health.

More research is needed on how suicide risk develops among Black youth, and how it can be best prevented. Significant questions remain in terms of understanding and predicting suicide risk among Black youth — while some risk factors have been well-researched and are clear (e.g., gender, victim of bullying and bullying others, LGBTQ+ discrimination, exposure to trauma, racial discrimination), there are other risk factors that are less clear. For example, some research suggests that Black adolescents who have contemplated or attempted suicide are less likely to have been diagnosed with a mental illness. Another significant risk factor is access to firearms — research points to higher rates of Black youth mortality due to firearms compared to other racial/ethnic groups — which is why we’re supporting infrastructure to improve research on firearm safety for youth.

One factor that may be contributing to increases in the risk of suicide in Black youth may be disparities in access to mental health services. Black youth continue to be less likely to receive mental health treatment for depression when needed, compared to White youth. Rates of engagement in and completion of treatments for depression are lower for Black adolescents (compared to White adolescents), often due to negative perceptions of services and providers and reluctance to acknowledge symptoms. Black youth are also significantly less likely than White youth to receive outpatient treatment even after a suicide attempt.

The good news is that NIMH-funded research has begun to point the way towards better risk identification and effective interventions that can help reverse these trends. Implementing universal screening for suicide risk using the Ask Suicide-Screening Questions toolkit, developed by investigators in the NIMH Intramural Research Program, can identify youth at risk, including Black youth. And, targeted efforts such as school-based mental health clinics can improve engagement in mental health care among Black youth with depression.

Nonetheless, we need considerably more research focused on solutions for Black children and adolescents if we are to truly make a difference for those in need. Accordingly, NIMH continues to expand opportunities for scientists interested in studying these issues, as articulated in our recent Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) in Research on Risk and Prevention of Black Youth Suicide. Other initiatives, including a call to establish Practice-Based Suicide Prevention Research Centers, though broader, are also designed to support work in minority communities and address disparities that affect Black youth. And we continue to look for additional opportunities to support science aimed at addressing this crisis. Black youths’ lives matter, and NIMH research must be aimed at saving lives and alleviating suffering in Black communities in need.

References

Breland-Noble, A. M., & AAKOMA Project Adult Advisory Board (2012). Community and treatment engagement for depressed African American youth: the AAKOMA FLOA pilot. Journal of Clinical Psychology in Medical Settings19(1), 41–48. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10880-011-9281-0

Bridge, J. A., Horowitz, L. M., Fontanella, C. A., Sheftall, A. H., Greenhouse, J., Kelleher, K. J., & Campo, J. V. (2018). Age-related racial disparity in suicide rates among US youths from 2001 through 2015. JAMA Pediatrics172(7), 697–699. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.0399

Cummings, J. R., Ji, X., Lally, C., & Druss, B. G. (2019). Racial and ethnic differences in minimally adequate depression care among Medicaid-enrolled youth. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry58(1), 128–138. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jaac.2018.04.025

DeVylder, J. E., Ryan, T. C., Cwik, M., Wilson, M. E., Jay, S., Nestadt, P. S., Goldstein, M., & Wilcox, H. C. (2019). Assessment of selective and universal screening for suicide risk in a pediatric emergency department. JAMA Network Open2(10), e1914070. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.14070

Fowler, K. A., Dahlberg, L. L., Haileyesus, T., Gutierrez, C., & Bacon, S. (2017). Childhood firearm injuries in the United States. Pediatrics, 140(1), e20163486. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2016-3486

Joe, S., Baser, R. S., Neighbors, H. W., Caldwell, C. H., & Jackson, J. S. (2009). 12-month and lifetime prevalence of suicide attempts among black adolescents in the national survey of American life. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry48(3), 271–282. https://doi.org/10.1097/CHI.0b013e318195bccf

Lindsey, M. A., Chambers, K., Pohle, C., Beall, P., & Lucksted, A. (2013). Understanding the behavioral determinants of mental health service use by urban, under-resourced black youth: Adolescent and caregiver perspectives. Journal of Child and Family Studies22(1), 107–121. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-012-9668-z

Musci, R. J., Hart, S. R., Ballard, E. D., Newcomer, A., Van Eck, K., Ialongo, N., & Wilcox, H. (2016). Trajectories of suicidal ideation from sixth through tenth grades in predicting suicide attempts in young adulthood in an urban African American cohort. Suicide and Life-Threatening Behavior46(3), 255–265. https://doi.org/10.1111/sltb.12191


Center for Disease Control

These programs and interventions promote population health and well-being in an effort to increase healthy life expectancy, improve quality of life, increase productivity, and reduce health care costs.

CDC Programs and Interventions

Programs and Interventions External to CDC


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: