The Assessment Of Suicide And Self Harm Risk

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The Assessment of Suicide and Self-Harm Risk in Adolescents
Each day, 95 people in the United States die by suicide. No one is immune to this tragic act regardless of age, race, ethnicity, gender, geographic location, and socioeconomic status. Suicide is especially prevalent in the adolescent and young adult populations, and is the third leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 24 (Borges et al., 2010). Within the group of 10- to 14 year-olds, most deaths by suicide occur in children and adolescents ages 12-14, with the rate of suicide deaths increasing dramatically in the late teen years. The rate of suicidal behavior continues to increase until the early twenties, at which points it drops off until late
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Numerous psychological autopsy studies have shown that approximately 90% of youth who die by suicide experience at least one mental disorder (Gould et al., 2003). The Utah Youth Suicide Study results (2005) indicated that mood disorders and substance use disorders are the most common diagnoses of youth who have died by suicide (Moskos et al., 2005). Further, results of a psychological autopsy study conducted by Brent et al. (1993) indicated that major depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse, and conduct disorder are the most significant psychiatric risk factors in adolescents who die by suicide. In addition, both mood and anxiety disorders with childhood onset have been shown to increase the likelihood of multiple nonlethal attempts in young adulthood (Rudd, Joiner, & Rumzek, 2004). Personality disorders have also been found to increase the risk of lethal suicide attempts in adolescents (Brent et al., 1993).
Clinicians should be aware of risk factors of suicidal behavior, however, warning signs of suicide tend to provide clinicians with more information when faced with the task of making a quick decision regarding the safety of a client. For example, depression is a risk factor for suicidal behavior, however, less than 15 percent of individuals with depression attempt suicide (Goldsmith et al. 2002). Therefore, focusing on a risk factor such as depression alone will not be as effective as also assessing
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