By: Khalil Hachem, Ann Arbor News
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Cheryl King in the Ann Arbor News
September 14, 2007
From the interview:The number of suicides among people age 10 to 24 made the largest jump in 15 years in 2004, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. University of Michigan clinical psychologist Cheryl King, director of a youth depression and suicide prevention program at the U-M Depression Center, discusses the issue.
Q: Are we seeing this increase locally?
A: We are not seeing the same type of overall increase in Michigan. The total number of suicides among Michigan residents under the age of 25 was 138 in 2000, 149 in 2004, and 142 in 2005. There is no clear pattern to these numbers.
However, in examining the suicide rates separately for young males and females in Michigan, it appears that the rate may be increasing for females. The number of suicides for females was nearly constant from 1999 to 2002 between 20 and 23, then dropped to 14 in 2003, then increased to 25 in 2004 and 37 in 2005. There is no such pattern among Michigan males in this age group, for which the suicide rate actually dropped in 2005.
Q: Why is the suicide rate increasing in this population?
A: The rate increased 8 percent (in the nation) between 2003 and 2004, which is an alarming change. This may be in part due to a sharp drop in the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which are antidepressant medications. The FDA issued advisories in 2003 and 2004 about a possible link between these antidepressants and suicidal thoughts and behaviors in youth. The number of prescriptions for these medications for youth decreased by about 22 percent in 2003 and 2004.
Other factors could include the significant shift among females to the use of more accessible and lethal methods of suicide. It is also possible that suicides are being recorded more accurately because of media attention and increasing recognition of the problem of suicide. We hope greater public awareness and understanding have not lowered the threshold of pain and distress at which young people choose to take their own lives....
To read the entire interview, visit the Ann Arbor News website at: http://blog.mlive.com/annarbornews/2007/09/medical_community_seeks_insigh.html.