Teen suicide is even more complicated than previously thought. According to a new study in JAMA Psychiatry, simply providing adolescents some mental health treatment is not an effective form of suicide prevention.
The study explored the prevalence of suicide, and the prevalence and treatment of suicidal behaviors including ideation, plans and attempts.
The study found that a majority of suicidal teens did receive at least some type of mental health treatment, and often the treatment started before suicidal behaviors began. However, despite early treatment, the suicidal behaviors still happened.
These results showed the need for major changes in treatments for suicidal teens and prevention efforts, since current treatments and prevention efforts are not always effective in helping suicidal teens.
Study conclusions suggested that instead of providing general mental health treatment for suicidal behaviors and general suicide prevention efforts, both aspects need to be more specialized.
Researchers behind the study proposed that suicidal behaviors are somewhat common for U.S teens, and many of these teens have preexisting mental disorders.
However, the type of mental disorder that suicidal teens have seems to be associated with the type of suicidal behavior they experience (ideation, plans or unplanned/planned attempts).
Because of the different mental disorders being paired up with different types of suicidal behaviors, more specified treatment and prevention efforts are needed.
Experts shared their opinions on what can be done to make teen suicide prevention efforts and treatment more effective.
Carl Grody, a licensed independent social worker, said in an email that although the study at first may appear to suggest that mental health treatments are ineffective for suicidal teens, there are a lot of complex factors to consider.
Regardless, he does agree improvements need to be made in treatment, prevention and generally in how suicidal teens are dealt with.
“We need to include families in the treatment,” Grody said.