Suicide rates are leading causes of death for teens, children

Luis Martinez, Entertainment Editor

Studies have shown suicide to be the third leading cause of death in teenagers and the second for children.

Stephanie Fredrick, a school psychologist from Glen Ellyn, presented a panel discussing the facts about bullying and suicide titled “Bullying and Suicide: What Are the Facts?”

Fredrick said the Center for Disease Control and Prevention came out with the new statistics about suicide rates.

“Obviously, this is kind of very high, very problematic,” Fredrick said. “ Because of these rates, we obviously think of it as this public health concern.”

Fredrick’s presentation took a closer look at suicidal behaviors and the role media plays, early signs and how to intervene during the fifth annual Bullying Conference, Friday.

Fredrick said research as shown that suicidal behaviors start with vague thoughts of death and the next step would be the intent to commit suicide.

“(At this step) students have a method in mind, they have a plan, maybe they write a note or are thinking about write a note, thinking about what they are going to put in that note,” Fredrick said. “On the other end of that continuum is the attempt and finally a completed death.”

Fredrick said during a survey taken in the CDC’s study, 16 percent of students who took the survey indicated that they had suicidal thoughts within the past year.

“There were, I believe, over 2,000 students that were part of this survey,” Fredrick said. “The survey assess more than just suicidal behaviors, but this one was just specifically focusing on the students.”

Fredrick said in regards to the 16 percent of students who said they had suicidal thoughts on the survey, she found these results very concerning.

“Say you have a high school of 1,000 students, that means 160 of those students have actually thought about, in the past year, committing suicide,” Fredrick said. “It’s really problematic. 13 percent of them actually had a plan, 8 percent actually made an attempt.”

Fredrick said girls tend to engage in suicidal ideas than boys, but boys are more likely to die by suicide and while the number of the suicidal behaviors in children is lower, it is growing.

“Already this year, I’ve already had to conduct two risk assessments, one for a second grader and one for a third grader,” Fredrick said. “It’s just something to really be aware about even in those early childhood or elementary years.”

Fredrick said in the past 20 years, there have been a lot research about both bullying and suicide rates.

“We do know that bullying and suicidal behaviors have a common set of risk factors,” Fredrick said. “We know that when a student engages in bullying behavior, one student is a victim and they are more likely to engage in suicidal behavior, but that relationship is very complex.”

Fredrick said what researchers do not know is if bullying directly causes suicide.

“We found that there are actually other things that are more closely related to suicidal behaviors than bullying,” Fredrick said. “For example, in these studies, are we controlled for depression, are we controlled for violence? A lot of times, bullying is no longer related to suicidal behaviors.”

Fredrick said a lot of research shows that bullying tends to exasperate suicidal issues rather than being the direct cause of them.

“One of the things that I found when I kind of looked at and analyzed my data, was that actually for both face-to-face bullying and cyber-bullying, that relationship to suicidal ideation was stronger for girls than it was for boys,” Fredrick said. “That relationship has been found in research, but it is still trying to be replicated and things like that.”


Luis Martinez can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]