Quote of the day
Media contributes to structural stigma towards mental illness

Does asking teens about suicidal thoughts push them over the edge? No. Ask.

Counseling_teens Does asking teens or anyone for that matter whether they are thinking about suicide increase the risk of suicidal behavior? In other words, does asking someone about it push them "over the edge" into actually doing it?

This belief has long been understood in the mental health field as a myth and actually the opposite seems to be true, that is, asking people about their suicidal ideas seems to decrease the risk of suicidal behavior.

A study published in the April 6, 2005 issue of the JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, reports that inquiring about suicidal thinking in teens does not increase the risk of suicidal behavior. To use the professional jargon, screening for suicidal thoughts among teenagers does not have an iatrogenic effect.

Best thing to do if you are worried about whether someone is thinking suicidal thoughts is to ask them. If they are and there seems to be risk in the person acting on those thoughts assist them in getting professional help. If the risk is high, call the police. They will transport the person to an emergency room for a psychiatric evaluaton.

Link: JAMA -- Abstract: Evaluating Iatrogenic Risk of Youth Suicide Screening Programs: A Randomized Controlled Trial, April 6, 2005, Gould et al. 293 (13): 1635.


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