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Study finds over 70 percent of suicidal teens don't get the mental health services they need
Date:9/14/2011

d these impairments persisted into a six-month follow-up period. These difficulties can, in turn, intensify the need for mental healthcare.

In the study, Dr. McCarty and co-investigators examined the use of healthcare services among teens aged 13-18 who were patients at Group Health Cooperative. A total of 198 teens were studied, including 99 teens who endorsed suicidal thoughts, and 99 control teens, matched on age and gender. Administrative data spanning two years were collected from medical records, in addition to interviews conducted with teens and their parents.

Utilization of mental health services was low among both the control group and those with suicidal thoughts. Although 86 percent of the youth with suicidal ideation had seen a healthcare provider, only 13 percent had a mental health specialty visit, and only 7 percent received antidepressant medications. Only 10 percent of those without suicidal ideation had received any mental health visits within the Group Health Cooperative system in the prior year. However, respondents with suicidal ideation had significantly more severe depression, a greater prevalence of lifetime diagnosis of depression or anxiety, and higher scores of pediatric chronic disease. When all mental health service questions were combined, 26 percent of the teens with suicide ideation received services the prior year, and 16 percent received services in the following year. These findings confirmed previous studies examining self-reported mental health services among adolescents.

"We know that asking teens about suicidal ideation does not worsen their problems," said Dr. McCarty. "It's absolutely crucial for a teen who is having thoughts of self-harm or significant depression to be able to tell a helpful, trustworthy adult."

"These findings underscore the need for clinicians to be aware of the potential for suicide in adolescence," added Dr. McCarty. "Primary care physicians and healthcare provid
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Contact: Louise Maxwell
press@seattlechildrens.org
206-987-4500
Seattle Children's
Source:Eurekalert

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