What happens outside a tightly-controlled study is harder to know. Indeed, any chance that a teen may take his or her life is reason for concern. Suicides accounted for nearly 32,000 American deaths in 2002, with most of them occurring in teens between 18 and 19 years of age. Dr. David Shaffer, the director of child and adolescent psychology at Columbia University and a leading expert on suicidal behavior, discusses these risks and puts the recent controversy over antidepressants into perspective.
How common is it for adolescents
to have suicidal thoughts? They are very, very common. Suicidal thoughts occur
in around 20 percent of all high school-aged kids. One in five high school kids
have thought about suicide within the last year.
Have the thoughts or attempts of suicide gone down in recent years? The rate of attempts doesn't appear to have gone down. The rate of ideation [suicidal thoughts] that's being tracked has gone down from about 25 percent two years ago to about 19 percent today.
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