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Paris Jackson’s attempt draws attention to teen suicide

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According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15 to 24 year olds, after accidents and homicide. It is believed that for every completed suicide, at least 25 attempts are made. Paris Jackson’s alleged suicide attempt is a reminder that no one is immune; fame or fortune does not shield a teen from depression or any of the other factors that increase the risk of suicide among teens. Those factors include:

  • A psychological disorder (depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol or drug abuse)
  • Feelings of irritability, agitation, distress, hopelessness, worthlessness
  • A previous attempt
  • A family history either of depression or suicide
  • Abuse-physical, emotional or sexual
  • Feelings of isolation or lack of close family members or peers
  • Dealing with sexuality issues in an unsupportive environment

Often, teens who commit or attempt suicide warn others beforehand. It is said that Paris Jackson recited the Beatles’ song “Yesterday” to her fans and had tweeted, “I wonder why tears are salty.” It has also been alleged that Paris was upset because she was not permitted to attend a Marilyn Manson concert. While any of these behaviors could be described as typical teen reactions, it points up the difficulty in recognizing the depth of a teen’s pain.

One of the most important aspects of preventing teen is suicide is support and seeking help for underlying issues. Paris is currently hospitalized and hopefully, receiving the care she needs to recover. Teens and parents need to, as President Obama recently said, bring mental health issues including suicide out into public discourse so they can be discussed openly and teens are not afraid of reaching out for help. Here in Los Angeles, Cedars-Sinai provides crisis intervention and prevention through Teen Line. Teen Line publishes educational materials and will take calls from anywhere in the country. They will also make referrals for teens to get the help they need.

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