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Many U.S. Teens at Risk for Suicide Despite Treatment: Study
Date:1/9/2013

By Steven Reinberg
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 9 (HealthDay News) -- A new study casts doubt on the value of current professional treatments for teens who struggle with mental disorders and thoughts of suicide.

Harvard researchers report that they found that about 1 in every 8 U.S. teens (12.1 percent) thought about suicide, and nearly 1 in every 20 (4 percent) either made plans to kill themselves or actually attempted suicide.

Most of these teens (80 percent) were being treated for various mental health issues. Yet, 55 percent didn't start their suicidal behavior until after treatment began, and their treatment did not stem the suicidal behavior, the researchers found.

"Most suicidal adolescents reported that they had entered into treatment with a mental health specialist before the onset of their suicidal behaviors, which means that while our treatments may be preventing some suicidal behaviors, it clearly is not yet good enough at reducing suicidal thoughts and behaviors," said Simon Rego, director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center/Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City.

"It is therefore also important to make sure that mental health professionals are trained in the latest evidence-based approaches to managing suicidality," added Rego, who was not involved in the new study.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third-leading cause of death among adolescents, taking more than 4,100 lives each year.

The report, led by Matthew Nock, professor of psychology at Harvard, was published online Jan. 9 in JAMA Psychiatry.

For the study, researchers collected data on suicidal behaviors among almost 6,500 teenagers.

Fear, anger, distress, disruptive behavior and substance abuse were all predictors of suicidal behavior, they noted.

Some teens were more prone to thinking about suicide than doing it
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