Monday, November 7, 2011

Teen Suicide Rate on the Rise

The recent suicide of 17-year-old Dan Behar has once again put a spotlight on teen suicide. And there is one question raised again and again: What is happening among the youth?

"There are lots and lots of questions we will never have answers to," said Richard Lieberman, a psychologist for the Los Angeles Unified School District. "It's complex."

Lieberman was among the founders of the suicide prevention services within the LAUSD nearly 25 years ago. The services began when the number of suicides tripled in the 1980s and became the third leading cause of death for high school kids in the United States.

For youths between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide continues to be the third leading cause of death, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 4,400 youths take their lives each year

Between 1994 and 2003, there was an average of 26 youths each year who died in Los Angeles County as a result of suicide, Lieberman said. The average declined to 13 per year between 2004 to 2009, he said.

"It is such a hard topic to talk about and very often parents don't wish to discuss it as a suicide," Lieberman said. "There are no predictors of youth suicide."

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