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Suicide Rate Rises Among Illinois Youth Ages 10 to 17

April 30, 2018

CHICAGO-- According to a report by the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, suicide among 10- to 17-year-old youth in Illinois has risen steadily among males from 2007 to 2015 and has also risen among females from 2010 to 2015. The report provides further insights into suicide among this age group, including methods used, day of the week of injury and location where injury occurred.

“We are concerned that suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for males aged 10 to 17 and the 2nd leading cause of death for females of the same age, and that this has been the case for some time,” said Maryann Mason, PhD, Principal Investigator of the Illinois Violent Death Reporting System at the Mary Ann and J. Milburn Smith Child Health Research, Outreach, and Advocacy Center of the Stanley Manne Children’s Research Institute at Lurie Children’s

The data brief reports that 64.5% of suicides among 10 to 17 year olds in Illinois occur by hanging/strangulation and 22.7% by firearm.  Our analyses also indicate that most (73.4%) suicides among this age group occur at home and that Saturdays (16.6%) and Thursdays (15.4%) have increased likelihood of suicide for Illinois youth of this age.

“These findings are a grim reminder of the insufficient funding for mental health services for youth in our state,” said Karen Sheehan, MD, MPH, Director of the Injury Prevention and Research Center.  “Major challenges to our mental health system in the past few years have resulted in closure of community mental health facilities and reports of increased wait lists for remaining mental health providers, as well as increased ER visits for mental health issues.”

“Suicide is preventable yet as a society we struggle to come to terms with what we need to improve access and financing of effective mental health treatment,” Said John Walkup, MD, Chair, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Lurie Children’s.  “We are working diligently to spread the word that all premature death in youth whether related to suicide, gun-related violence or death during high-risk activities is preventable. We know what to do, but need a collective will to get it done.”     

These latest findings about youth suicide in Illinois further underscore the importance of taking a public health approach to mental health promotion embraced by Lurie Children’s Center for Childhood Resilience (CCR). “It is vital that we increase public awareness of the signs and symptoms of depression, and the warning signs of suicide for youth, families and adults.  In addition, we must equip front line providers who work with children and youth with both awareness and strategies for supporting and connecting youth and their families to services,” said Colleen Cicchetti, PhD, Attending Psychologist, Lurie Children’s and Executive Director, CCR.

CCR takes a comprehensive approach to this work through efforts to engage public and private community stakeholders to ensure access to training and resources. This includes training by CCR staff for educators, recreational staff (such as in after-school programs), early childhood providers, pediatricians and other health care providers; and collaborating with community partners that are also reaching other audiences including first responders, juvenile justice and police.

“These patterns of youth suicide in our state indicate the critical need to invest in school-community collaborations,” says Dr. Cicchetti.  ”Most children and youth who receive mental health services receive them in schools. That means we must invest in the development, support and allocation of school-based mental health clinicians in our state.” 

Lurie Children’s is ranked as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals in the U.S.News & World Report. It is the pediatric training site for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Last year, the hospital saw more than 200,000 individual patients from 50 states and 52 countries.