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MN Youth Facing Suicide as 2nd Leading Cause of Death

New research now confirms that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people in Minnesota and across the nation. (iStockphoto)
New research now confirms that suicide is the second-leading cause of death among young people in Minnesota and across the nation. (iStockphoto)
June 28, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. – Suicide now is the second leading cause of death among young people in Minnesota and across the country, according to new research published this week.

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, a child psychiatrist at NorthShore University HealthSystem and the report’s lead author, says online bullying can be as serious as face-to-face bullying.

"Both bully victims and bully perpetrators are affected,” he states. “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 suicide awareness group Save, 25 percent of public school ninth graders in Minnesota have had suicidal thoughts.

Shain says one of the best ways for parents to help prevent youth suicide is to talk openly and calmly with their children.

And while the report notes that more than 5 hours of Internet use a day is strongly linked with high levels of depression, 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 explains. “It can have a net negative effect. 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. They include familiarity with community resources and area mental health professionals.


Brandon Campbell, Public News Service - MN