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Suicide Now 2nd Leading Cause of Death Among IL Youth

New research shows suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among young people. (iStockphoto)
New research shows suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among young people. (iStockphoto)
June 27, 2016

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Suicide is now the second-leading cause of death among young people in Illinois and across the country, according to new research published today. The report, titled "Suicide and Suicide Attempts in Adolescents," updates an American Academy of Pediatrics report from 2007, when suicide was the third-leading cause of death for people age 15 to 19. The new research lists bullying and internet use as big risk factors for that age group.

Dr. Benjamin Shain M.D., Ph.D., of NorthShore University HealthSystem is the lead author of the report. He said online bullying can be as serious as face-to-face bullying.

"Both bully victims and bully perpetrators are affected," he said. "And the group that's affected the most is in the group who are both victims and perpetrators, had the highest increase in mental health concerns, suicidal thoughts and behaviors and suicides."

According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, for every young person who takes their own life, an estimated 100 to 200 make suicide attempts. Dr. Shain said one the best ways for parents to help prevent youth suicide is to talk openly and calmly with their kids.

And while the report notes that more than five hours of internet use a day is strongly linked with high levels of depression, Dr. Shain warns that simply trying to block access to a teen's online social network likely won't help the situation.

"It interferes with having the good relationship, which you need for providing support and guidance," he added. "It can have a net negative affect. Whatever you gain in terms of decreasing screen time and monitoring, I think you're losing much more in terms of being able to provide support and guidance."

The report also lists suggestions to help pediatricians recognize warning signs and provide help. That includes familiarity with community resources and area mental health professionals.

Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - IL