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Youth Suicides Continue to Rise in U.S.
Date:9/2/2008

One reason may be reluctance to prescribe antidepressants, study suggests

TUESDAY, Sept. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Suicides among U.S. children appear to be on the rise after a 15-year decline, and the trend may owe, in part, to fewer teens being prescribed antidepressants, a new study suggests.

Researchers thought a spike in youth suicides in 2004 may have been an anomaly. But the new study found the increase in suicides continued during 2005.

Looking at suicide trends among youngsters over a 15-year period, Jeff Bridge, from Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, found the rates of suicide among youths aged 10 to 19 were higher in 2004 and 2005 than would have been expected, based on suicide rate trends from 1996 to 2003.

"This is significant, because pediatric suicide rates in the U.S. had been declining steadily for a decade until 2004, when the suicide rate among U.S. youth younger than 20 years of age increased by 18 percent, the largest single-year increase in the past 15 years," said Bridge, an investigator in the Center for Innovation in Pediatric Practice.

"We now need to consider the possibility that this increase is an indicator of an emerging public health crisis. Studies to identify causal factors are important next steps," he added.

Bridge, whose findings were published in the Sept. 3 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, said several factors could be contributing to the increase in youth suicides. They include the influence of Internet social networking sites; an increase in the suicide rate among U.S. troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan; and higher rates of untreated or undiagnosed depression.

One possible explanation for the increase could be that antidepressant use among children has been the subject of intense controversy in recent years, making doctors and parents more reluctant to use them.

In October 2003, the
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