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The Madera Tribune

Adults, adolescents, suicide and schools

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webmaster | 06/28/13

This last weekend one of our residents in Madera attempted to kill himself by jumping into traffic on the freeway, which is unusual but common. What do our schools and students have in common with adults on suicide ideations, suicide threats and suicide? Here are the facts to the increased epidemic in our society.

Rates of suicide have increased by 6 percent from the 1960s to 2012, with these increases seen primarily in the developing world. For every suicide that results in death there are between 10 and 40 attempted suicides.

The most commonly used methods in successful suicide are firearms, hanging, pesticide poisoning, and cutting. Around 800,000 to a million people die by suicide every year, making it the 10th leading cause of death worldwide. Rates are higher in men than in women, with males three to four times more likely to kill themselves than females. There are an estimated 10 million to 20 million non-fatal attempted suicides every year worldwide. Attempts are more common from the ages of 12 to 29.

Caucasians accounted for 84 percent of all youth suicides, 61 percent male and 23 percent female. However, the suicide rate for Native Americans was 19.3 per 100,000, much higher than the overall rate (8.5 per 100,000). The suicide rate for African Americans has increased more than twofold. A national survey of high school students is reported that Hispanic students are twice as likely to report an attempted suicide as Caucasian students.

Factors that affect the risk of suicide included psychiatric disorders, drug usage, psychological states, cultural, family and social situations, and genetics. Mental illness and substance misuse frequently co-exist. Other risk factors include having previously attempted suicide, the ready availability of a means to commit the act, a family history of suicide, or the presence of traumatic brain injury. For example, suicide rates have been found to be greater in households with firearms than those without them. Socioeconomic factors such as unemployment, poverty, homelessness, and discrimination may trigger suicidal thoughts.

About 15 to 40 percent of people leave a suicide note. Genetics appears to account for between 38 percent and 55 percent of suicidal behaviors. War veterans have a higher risk of suicide due in part to higher rates of mental illness and physical health problems related to war.

The statistics on bullying and suicide are alarming: Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.

Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims; at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying. Our 10- to 14- year-old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying. Bully-related suicide can be connected to any type of bullying, including physical bullying, emotional bullying, cyber bullying, and sex texting, or circulating suggestive or nude photos or messages about a person.

Some schools or regions have more serious problems with bullying and suicide related to bullying. This may be due to an excessive problem with bullying at the school. It could also be related to the tendency of students who are exposed to suicide to consider suicide themselves.

When we lose a child or family member to suicide or the depression within the mind of a person who has made a suicidal attempt or who has suicidal ideations. We all lose as a community as well as the suffering of the family members dealing with the emotional roller coaster this epidemic brings.

Lynn Cogdill, MUSD Trustee,


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