Recently the New York Times highlighted a study from the National Center for Health Statistics that suicide rates for all age groups are increasing in the US. NPR reported that in particular, the rates of suicide for young adolescent girls aged 10-14 tripled, which some think may be due to trends in earlier puberty. In young people, suicide is the second leading cause of death.
There are many explanations for this, and yet more research to do, especially in mental health services to best understand how to help young people with suicidal thoughts have access to life-saving treatment. We agree with Dr. Borenstein, president of the Brain & Behavior Research Foundation, who wrote a follow-up editorial that these numbers should be a wake-up call for the U.S. to declare a war on mental illness and increase funding for life-saving research.
all psychotherapists being competent to provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
a protocol for suicidal patients to remove weapons from the home
increasing access to care through: same-day access and e-mail visits
an educational website
educating staff in suicide prevention
frequent check-ins by phone
and providing families and support people with mental health education
At SOVAproject, we hope to help fight these increasing rates of suicide by designing an intervention with the goal of increasing adolescent and parent engagement in treatment. We are encouraged that implementation of evidence-based methods at centers like Henry Ford, do lead to real-word decreases in suicide rates, and are encouraged to advocate for continued suicide prevention.
A year ago we posted about the development of the Crisis Text Line and how it’s a transformative tool for people to be able to text someone when they are in crisis. Since the Crisis Text Line’s inception, they have had 16,185,952 messages exchanged since August 1, 2013.
“That’s the volume, velocity and variety to provide a really juicy corpus.We can do things like predictive work.We can do all kinds of conclusions and learnings from that data set.So we can be better, and the world can be better.”
Furthermore, CrisisTrends.org has been launched to share ALL THIS DATA with us! Crisis Trends aims to empower journalists, researchers, and citizens to understand the crises Americans face so we can work together to prevent future crises from happening. From the TED talk:
“This data is also making the world betterbecause I’m sitting on the world’s first map of real-time crises.Think about it:those 6.5 million messages, auto-tagging through natural language processes,all of these data points —I can tell you that the worst day of the week for eating disorders: Monday.The worst time of day for substance abuse: 5am.And that Montana is a beautiful place to visitbut you do not want to live there,because it is the number one state for suicidal ideation.”
With this information, we can know when people are most affected by certain mental health issues, and we can create better interventions.
Recently the JED Foundation published research on parent knowledge and attitudes in regards to their children’s mental health. We were interested in this article because it directly relates to our work with the SOVA studies.
They asked parents about their knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions about stigma of accessing mental health care; they also asked their opinion about the role of colleges in mental health care. This is an important research topic we know little about and which can inform parents how to help their children, especially those with mental health problems, transition to college. It can be difficult for parents to understand what is normative in college transition versus not. One example is many college students experience lack of sleep – how do you know if its just a fact of life in college? or a symptom of a mental illness? It’s important to know how to pick up on early signs of emotional distress that can sometimes come out during this transition.
Emotional disorders are very common in college: The health status of emerging young adults (age 18 to 26) is a major concern facing our nation. These “new adolescents”:
face greater behavioral and non-behavioral health risks than either adolescents aged 12-17 or young adults aged 26-34. Overall, emerging young adults have the highest rates of motor vehicle injury and death, homicide, mental health problems, sexually transmitted infections and substance abuse
compared to those two age groups, emerging young adults often have the lowest perception of risk and
this age group has the least access to care and has the highest uninsured rate in the United States (from: usc.edu)
Although most parents feel that they are able to identify signs of depression in their college-age children, they actually have deficits in knowledge when asked to identify symptoms of depression without prompting. “Only 3.4% of parents identified suicidal thoughts as a sign of depression and only 15% of parents were able to name more than one or two signs” (JED foundation, 2008). Parents were least comfortable discussing mental health, especially suicidal thoughts and other health topics.
SOVA and wiseSOVA aim to increase knowledge, improve parent-adolescent communication around mental health, and connect families with available resources, including the JED foundation to promote healthy transitions!