Suicide third leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - Suicide is the third leading cause of death among 15 to 24-year-olds, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A study published in the medical journal, The Lancet, tracked the pattern of self-harmful behavior in 1, 943 teenagers in Australia, Victoria from 1992 to 2008.

Non-profit community mental health center Mid-South Health Systems serves 12 cities in Northeast Arkansas. Mid-South Health Systems pediatric psychiatrist Dr. Arif Mirza said self-mutilation is often triggered before teens reach adolescence. "Usually children under 10 years of age suffer some sort of trauma or a psychological trauma in their life that puts them in that risk of developing self-harm behaviors," he said.

According to the study, self-harm is "an act with a non-fatal outcome in which an individual deliberately initiates behavior..., or ingests a toxic substance or object, with the intention of causing harm to themselves," and one of the strongest predictors of suicide.  The most common form of mutilation the teenagers from the study engaged in was injuring the skin through cutting and burning.

Local trends are comparable to the results of the study. "In the community what we are seeing are mostly are burning and self mutilation mostly in the wrists and legs."

Dr. Mirza said in many cases a teenager who engages in self-mutilation doesn't always want to die, the teenager lacks the maturity to express a problem. "They do not have a clear desire to die, but there is an underlying problem that they really cannot talk about."

A new phenomena Dr. Mirza said doctors in his office are seeing has a "digital twist."

"Instead of having a face-to-face fight, now it is more likely that someone received a very hostile, inappropriate 10 or 20 text messages in five minutes."

For information about Mid-South Health Systems, click here.

Signs to Look For:
  • Pants and long sleeves in warm weather
  • Less of a social media presence
  • Social withdrawal
  • Poor academic performance

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