Suicide Risk on the Rise For Teens and Adult Women, Too
“Parents are faced with a shell of a person and have no idea where they lost their child.”
-Teri, who had a secret abortion as a teen
A troubling 2008 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that teen suicide rates are on the rise. According to the study, there was an 18% increase in teen suicides in 2004—the largest single-year increase in the past 15 years—and the upward trend continued in the next year. 1
Experts and parents are concerned about this upswing in youth suicides, and many are also troubled by the results of a recent Johns Hopkins University study that found a 4% annual increase in suicides among Caucasian women age 40 to 64. The findings were published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2
Elliot Institute research over the years has indicated disturbingly high suicide rates among teens and women who have had abortions. After abortion there is a 65% higher risk of clinical depression. 3
Most suffer symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), 4 made worse by societal dismissal of the grief or blanket condemnation of women who've had an abortion.
Suicide rates are 6 times higher after abortion 5 and there are few checks and balances for coercion or post-abortion issues in schools, clinics, hospitals and even social services or pastoral care.
Not only do most fail to screen for evidence of unwanted, coerced, inadequately or deceptively informed or even forced abortion; some contribute to the insidious and often collective synergy of coercion. Few make efforts to address its heartbreaking, sometimes deadly aftereffects.
Warning Signs … While There Is Time
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, as many as 25 suicides are attempted for each one that is completed. 6
This underscores the importance of immediate and compassionate education and outreach for all parents and families at risk … the need to acknowledge pregnancy- and abortion-related injustices … the need for proactive, meaningful alternatives and support … and the danger of snap judgment of those facing unique challenges surrounding an unexpected pregnancy or post-abortion injury and grief.
The injustices that often surround such issues and a sense of urgency have driven many parents, grandparents, family and friends to become passionate advocates warning other Americans—including activists on all sides of often-divisive women's issues—that their own loved ones are at risk of pregnancy-related injustices; unwanted, coerced or deceptively informed abortion; and quiet, even dangerous post-abortion heartbreak.
Throughout these challenging times, our greatest gift to them would be to express our concern, acknowledge their loss and save at least one other daughter, sister, mother, wife or friend from the fate of the teens and women they loved.
1. Bridge JA et. al., " Suicide Trends Among Youths Aged 10 to 19 Years in the United States, JAMA, Vol. 300, No. 9, Sept. 3, 2008.
2. Theresa Tamkin, "Study: U.S. suicides rising; risk high in middle age," CNN Health, Dec. 9, 2008. Accessed Dec. 18, 2008 at www.cnn.com/2008/HEALTH/10/21/Healthmag.suicide.increase/?iref=mpstoryview
3. Cougle JR et. al., "Depression Associated With Abortion and Childbirth: A Long-Term Analysis of the NLSY Cohort," Medical Science Monitor 9(4): CR105-112 (2003).
4. Rue VM et. al., “Induced abortion and traumatic stress: A preliminary comparison of American and Russian women,” Medical Science Monitor 10(10): SR5-16 (2004).
5. Gissler M et. al., "Suicides after pregnancy in Finland, 1987-94: register linkage study," British Journal of Medicine 313:1431-4, 1996, and Gissler M, “Injury deaths, suicides and homicides associated with pregnancy, Finland 1987-2000,” European J. Public Health 15(5):459-63, 2005. See also Reardon DC et. al., “Deaths Associated With Pregnancy Outcome: A Record Linkage Study of Low Income Women,” Southern Medical Journal 95(8):834-41, Aug. 2002.
6. Moscicki EK., "Epidemiology of completed and attempted suicide: toward a framework for prevention," Clinical Neuroscience Research, 2001; 1: 310-23. Cited at www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-in-the-us-statistics-and-prevention.shtml.
Bridge JA et. al., " Suicide Trends Among Youths Aged 10 to 19 Years in the United States, JAMA, Vol. 300, No. 9, Sept. 3, 2008.
To the Editor: Following a decade of steady decline, the suicide rate among US youth younger than 20 years increased by 18% from 2003 to 2004, the largest single-year change in the pediatric suicide rate over the past 15 years.1 Federal health officials have urged caution in interpreting this 1-year apparent spike in youth suicide until data from additional years are available for comparison.1 We examined available national fatal injury data to assess whether the increase in suicide rates among US youth persisted from 2004 to 2005, the latest year for which data are available.
Data on deaths for which suicide (coded E950-E959 for International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision [ICD-9] [1996-1998] and X60-X84, Y87.0, and U03 for ICD-10 [1999-2005]) was listed as the underlying cause of death among 10- to-19-year-olds were obtained from the National Vital Statistics Systems using WISQARS (Web-based Injury Statistics Query and Reporting System; National Center . . . [Full Text of this Article]
Jeffrey A. Bridge, PhD
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital
Joel B. Greenhouse, PhD
Department of Statistics
Carnegie Mellon University
Arielle H. Weldon, MS; John V. Campo, MD; Kelly J. Kelleher, MD, MPH
The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital
"The thought of abortion in our family is a terrible thing.
Our granddaughter, age 21, had an abortion. Three months later she killed herself. … She dearly loved children. …
"She was always taking care of some friend's children.
If someone like you could have talked with her,
she might be alive today."
For some time, studies by the Elliot Institute and others have linked abortion to a significantly increased risk of suicide. And recent studies indicate that suicides among young and adult women are on the rise.
The heartbreak of the grandmother quoted above is all too familiar. We can't talk to every granddaughter, daughter, sister, neighbor, family member or friend about unwanted, coerced deceptive and dangerous abortion and painful, even deadly, post-abortion grief. But our ads, education and outreach materials (www.theunchoice.com/adcamp.htm) can help raise awareness, open doors, console those who grieve, and plant seeds of hope for those who may feel despair.
There is a multiplier effect that a unified, professionally developed campaign can achieve.
It empowers us to reach not just one but thousands of lives, which in turn a significant ripple-effect.
(See how to run ads www.theunchoice.com/Ads101.htm)
The holiday season can be especially hard for individuals and families who are hurting. And suicide risk among women who've had an abortion can rise at this time. The reality that time is not on our side is more important than ever this year in light of a new study showing an unexpected and unexplained spike in suicide rates among middle-aged women … a new trend that has taken experts by surprise.
The fact that post-abortion grief—which has been linked to higher suicide rates—is often denied, dismissed or minimized by experts and others, cannot help this disturbing trend. But maybe by educating, warning and reaching out to others close to home, we can.
To learn more, visit www.TheUnChoice.com/suicide.htm
Find these Tools to Reverse the Trend
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[19December2008, Elliot Institute, "Recent Overall Suicide Spike Among Teens and Women: What You Can Do"]