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 May 12, 2005
Talking About Suicide With Teens Won't Spur Thoughts: Report
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Parents who fear discussing suicide with their teenagers can take heart in a new study that found that talking about suicide won't make young people more likely to contemplate it.

In fact, asking troubled teens about suicidal impulses may ease their distress and may make them less likely to try killing themselves, researchers at Columbia University in New York City found.

Experts told the Associated Press that suicide has been stigmatized to the point where parents are afraid to even discuss it. And American schools are often reluctant to bring up the subject for fear of being blamed if students later harm themselves, they said.

Each year, some 3 million people ages 15 to 19 seriously contemplate suicide, and about 1.7 million actually try it, the AP reported. About half of the attempts require medical attention, and about 1,600 succeed, the wire service said.

The study, published in Wednesday's Journal of the American Medical Association, advances the belief that talking with teens about suicide may allow them to "unburden themselves," Larry Berman, executive director of the American Association of Suicidology, told the wire service. By contrast, not talking about it may send a false signal "that you don't care," Berman said.


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