Adolescents Should Have Suicide Risk Assessments, Pediatricians Say

The recommendation is provided as the prevalence of mental health difficulties among ages 12 and older continues to rise.

QUICK FACTS:
  • The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is recommending suicide risk tests for all teens in its addition to the Guidelines for Adolescent Depression.
  • In 2018, the AAP encouraged annual depression screening for ages between 12 and 21, where risk is assessed through a series of questions.
  • Dr. Natan Copeland, Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist at Duke Health, explained how the questionnaire probes patients about “depressive symptoms” followed by asking the youth “about suicide ideation or thoughts of self-harm, thoughts that they rather may be dead or alive, thoughts that they may be struggling a little bit.”
  • “Over the past decade, an alarming number of young people struggled with feelings of helplessness, depression, and thoughts of suicide,” said U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
  • The suicide risk advisement comes as 50% of adolescents are being diagnosed with mental health challenges before the age of 18, the percentage only increasing since the pandemic stay-at-home orders.
COVID LOCKDOWNS ON ADOLESCENT MENTAL STABILITY:
  • “The COVID-19 pandemic further altered their experiences at home, school, and in the community, and the effect on their mental health has been devastating,” Surgeon General Murthy continued.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that 44% of teenagers showed signs of depression throughout 2021.
  • 55% of adolescents stated in the report they endured emotional abuse during the stay-at-home orders.
BACKGROUND:
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) admitted in an international report the failed lockdowns only created a “global crisis for mental health” rather than succeeding in any capacity.
  • Not only are mental health challenges on the rise, but educators have also argued children’s social skills are severely lacking.
  • Even babies and toddlers are experiencing delays in social and motor skill development compared to children born prior to Covid shutdowns, largely from reduced social interaction and maternal stress levels.