Promote Mental Health Before College: Suicide Risk on the Rise for Teens aged 15-17

by Carjamin Scott on June 11, 2018, at 7:50 p.m. CST

According to a Vanderbilt-led study, the risk of suicide for teens aged 15-17 has increased, particularly during the month of October. The study, published in Pediatrics, indicated that school-aged children had a higher rate of suicide attempts in the fall and spring. The summer months had the lowest rate of suicide attempts.

“To our knowledge, this is one of only a few studies to report higher rates of hospitalization for suicide during the academic school year,” said lead author Greg Plemmons, MD, associate professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.

The study was conducted from 2008-2015 at children’s hospitals across America. The sharp rise of suicides and suicide attempts during the school year suggest that students experience higher levels of stress while enrolled in school. According to the U.S. Center for Disease and Prevention, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for adolescents.

…aside from alcohol-related deaths, suicide is the number one cause of death for college students.

Other studies indicate, aside from alcohol-related deaths, suicide is the number one cause of death for college students. As you prepare your student for college this August, be sure to talk with them about the importance of mental health and wellness. Students are often leaving home for the first time. They may experience anxiety, depression, and stress while navigating unfamiliar terrain. If your student is dealing with any of this, suggest that they attend counseling services available at the university. University counselors are experienced with assisting students with navigating college life.

Here are some of the signs to look for to determine if a student you know needs to seek medical treatment.

Troubling Messages on Social Media – Have they begun to write cryptic messages on social media? Messages that indicate loneliness, exclusion, or lack of support? Your student may feel that they have no one to talk to about their situation and is now relying on people outside of their inner circle for advice.

No Longer Attending Class
Is your student no longer attending class? Perhaps they feel excluded during class time? Are they anxious about the course of study? Or do they need help with assignments but is too embarrassed to seek it?

Issues with Relationships
Is this person dealing with the death of someone? Has this person experienced a break up or let down? Has this person had issues with finding relatable peers or maintaining friendships?

Hopelessness, Sadness, and Worthlessness
Has this person lost hope, is more sad and cynical than happy, and has talked about death and dying?

Tell them to get help!

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is open 24/7 and can be reached at 1-800-273-8255. You can also call 911 for immediate local help.

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Carjamin Scott can be reached at and you can follow her on twitter @scottcarjie.

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