No where should the right to life be more evident than in our youth under the age of 15. Yet, each year over 4,000 commit suicide. For those under the age of 10, the method of choice is either hanging or poison. Over age 10 and the preferred method is by gun. What possesses our kids to choose death? It is the third leading cause of death for the young. 16% of kids in high school have reported seriously considered suicide. Each year, approximately 157,000 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries at Emergency Departments across the U.S.
One answer that keeps cropping up is bullying. Text messages and emails to the victims points to an increase in bullying. However, there may be a factor that has not gained much attention. In a recent study, 125 children in Chicago and Pittsburgh were looked at. These had been diagnosed with ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) between ages 4 and 7. There was another group of 123 children in same age range who had not been diagnosed. Those in the ADHD group were three times more likely to have made a suicide attempt by age 18. One has to wonder if the medications are responsible.
In other studies, the use of Ritalin and other drugs prescribed for ADHD seem to cause an increase in suicides and suicide attempts. Drugs like Adderall, Vyvanse, Ritalin and Focalin are considered Class 2 controlled substances, the same as cocaine and morphine. They rank among the most addictive substances that have a medical use. Kids get these drugs through various sources including their own prescriptions.
One of the reasons older kids take these drugs is to boost their energy levels when taking tests. They have no idea what could happen. Suicides and their attempts might be considered stress-related in these circumstances. Autopsies might not include a test for any toxins in the teen. The statistics may actually be worse than those recorded.
It is probably time to expand the use of behavioral therapy in the young who have been diagnosed with ADHD. Drug use should be considered as a final resort when other methods do not work. Family members and teachers should receive some training on recognizing problems with kids' behaviors. Not all acting out is the result of ADHD. Sometimes it is just an easier diagnosis. And once a drug has been prescribed, the kids should be watched for any of the side effects that might result in death.
Scientists do not know the cause of this disorder. They believe it may be inherited. They are looking at brains as they try to identify any anomalies. A similar problem exits with autism. They both seem to be neural in nature but beyond that they are a challenge to parents, families and doctors. As more research is done to determine the link to suicide, everyone should be aware of any signs of depression in those they know. Whether we are looking at family members or acquaintances, we should show that we care.
Perhaps John Donne said it best:
No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend's or of thine own were; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder - Wikipedia, the free ...
Facts and Figures - American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
CDC - Youth Suicide - Suicide - Violence Prevention - Injury Center
ADHD, Depression, and Suicide: How Parents Can Keep Children ..health.usnews.com › Health › Family Health
ADHD: Ritalin prescriptions are soaring but experts warn of serious ...
The “Good-Grade” Drug-Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, etc. | Teen Talk
Ritalin Side Effects Depression Suicidal Thoughts - HealthCentral