All Risks Factors Are Important in Assessing Adolescent Suicide

In an extensive article on adolescent suicide published in Pediatrics, the authors glaringly omit the significant risk factors of sexual activity and elective abortion.    The American College of Pediatricians has previously noted the significant risk contribution each of these has upon adolescent suicide, as well as depression.

In studies that controlled for confounding factors, sexually active adolescent females were found to be three times as likely to report being depressed and three times as likely to have attempted suicide when compared to sexually abstinent females. Sexually active males were more than twice as likely to suffer from depression and seven times as likely to have attempted suicide when compared to sexually abstinent males.   Teen females with sexual experience were three times and males eight times more likely to have attempted suicide than were virgin teens. Among adolescent females, depression is not consistently followed by sexual activity, but sexual activity is frequently followed by depression

The relationship between induced abortion and suicide has been documented for over 30 years when a Minnesota study found that in the 6 months following an abortion, high school females were 10 times more likely to commit suicide than other females. Those with any past history of abortion were about 6 times more likely to have attempted suicide than those without.  More recently, studies in Finland and California found that Induced abortion is associated with a 2.5 to 7 times higher suicide rate in the years after abortion than after childbirth.

The American College of Pediatricians advises pediatricians counseling adolescents to recognize all the risk factors for adolescent suicide, including sexual activity and elective abortion.  More information for physicians and parents is available at the College website, www.BestforChildren.org. In light of these facts, the American College of Pediatricians recommends that parents visit our website for tips on parenting teens.

 

Resources

Induced Abortion: Risks That May Impact Adolescents, Young Adults, and Their Children. American College of Pediatricians, February 2015

Abstinence Education.   American College of Pediatricians, October 2010.

Sexual Risk Avoidance (Abstinence) Education. American College of Pediatricians.

The Family Table

References

(1) Shain B and AAP COMMITTEE ON ADOLESCENCE. Suicide and Suicide Attempts in Adolescents. Pediatrics. 2016;138(1):e20161420

(2) Abstinence Education,  American College of Pediatricians, October 2010

(3) Induced Abortion: Risks That May Impact Adolescents, Young Adults, and Their Children. American College of Pediatricians, February 2015

(4) Rector, R., Johnson, K., Noyes L. (2003). Sexually Active Teenagers are More likely to be Depressed and to Attempt Suicide. Heritage Foundation Center for Data Analysis 2003: Report #03-04. Available at: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Family/cda0304.cfm. Accessed June 5, 2003.

(5) Orr, D.P., Beiter, M., & Ingersoll, G. (1991). Premature Sexual Activity as an Indicator of Psychosocial Risk, Pediatrics Vol. 87, No. 2, February 1, 141 -147.

(6) Hallfors, D.D., Waller, M.W., Ford CA, et al. (2004). Adolescent depression and suicide risk: association with sex and drug behaviors. Am J Prev Med.Vol 27, p.224-230.

Above three references (4-6) cited in Weed, SE and Lickona, T, ABSTINENCE EDUCATION IN CONTEXT: HISTORY, EVIDENCE, PREMISES, AND COMPARISON TO COMPREHENSIVE SEXUALITY EDUCATION IN MAUREEN KENNY (ED.) (2014) SEX EDUCATION. HAUPPAUGE, NY: NOVA SCIENCE PUBLISHERS. WWW.NOVAPUBLISHERS.COM  http://www.acpeds.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Stan-Weed-and-Thomas-Lickona-2014.Abstinence-Education-in-Context.pdf.

(7) Stress, depression and suicide: a study of adolescents in Minnesota. Barry Garfinkel et al in Responding to High Risk Youth, Minnesota Extension Service, University of Minnesota (1986).