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Teens with self-harm history susceptible to suicide, says study

March 27, 2018 0 Comments

Teens with self-harm history susceptible to suicide, says study

Teens display self-harm behaviors to ease painful emotions and psychological distress; express emotional turmoil; self-punish to reduce their feeling of guilt; regain a sense of control; or distract oneself from difficult situations. At times, these also signal a cry for help. Unfortunately, the incidences of self-harm among teens are rising. Though the primary motive of such behavior is not killing oneself, a recent study, published in the journal Pediatrics, showed that people, between 12 and 24 years, indulging in self-harm, were at a high risk of committing suicide. This risk increased when guns were involved.

The researchers examined the data of 32,000 patients after a self-harm episode that was not fatal. Self-injury can comprise cutting, poisoning, use of firearms and other techniques used to injure oneself. The analysis found that 65 percent of the cases involved poisoning, succeeded by cutting, which accounted for 18 percent of the cases, while gun usage accounted for less than 1 percent of the cases. However, when teens and young adults used guns, they were 35 times more likely to attempt suicide in the following year compared to youth who used other means of self-harm. The authors noted that among the young generation, nonfatal self-injury was common. Further, suicide was the second highest cause of mortality in the age group of 15 to 24 years. They also found that at least 33 percent of the suicide cases were tied to nonfatal self-harm in the last three months of life.

Participants had received mental health care

Multiple study participants had recently received a diagnosis of mental health or substance abuse problems and almost 50 percent were enrolled for outpatient mental health care. Moreover, youths struggling with a personality disorder were 55 percent more likely to repeat their acts of self-injury and the risk increased by 65 percent if they had received inpatient care. However, 25 percent youth did not have any diagnosis of substance abuse or mental illness before they resorted to harming themselves.

Though the study presented a detailed analysis of the cases of self-harm, experts felt that it did not implement any controls. Further, the data from the insurance claims did not give any insights into what led to such behavior in the youth.

Homelessness and suicide

A different study published in Pediatrics established that homelessness was also a factor for suicidal ideation in teens. The researchers analyzed the data of more than 62,000 teens attending different public schools in Minnesota. The study population comprised approximately 4,600 youth living with an adult family member in a homeless setting. Homeless youth were majorly men, poor, non-white and living outside the urban settings. Overall, 9 percent of the homeless youth reported suicide attempts, 21 percent reported entertaining thoughts of suicide and 29 percent reported acts of self-injury. It was found that compared to youth residing in houses, the homeless were two times more likely to commit acts of self-injury and entertain thoughts of suicide and thrice more likely to attempt suicide.

Dr. Andrew Barnes from the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis stated that this study looked into the levels of distress in the lives of homeless youth. According to him, homeless youth had to face a lot of stress and negativity while growing up. Moreover, these youth faced harassment, discrimination and social marginalization that affected their academic achievements and physical and mental health.

Dealing with mental disorders

It is imperative that vulnerable youth are provided with support and stability to alleviate the problem of self-injury and suicide ideation. Fostering loving relationships with teachers, peers, and parent might reduce the risk of suicide. One must remember that teens or young adults with mental disorders need a sense of identity promoted in a positive way to help them connect with the community and instill a sense of purposefulness in them.

If you know a teen battling suicidal ideation, then it is time to seek professional help. White River Academy, a boarding school for teen boys aged between 12 and 17 years, offers the best teen suicidal ideation treatment in Utah. Call at our 24/7 helpline or chat online with our mental health experts for more details about treatment for suicidal teens.

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