World Suicide Prevention Day
For Immediate Release:
Sept. 9, 2010
TeenScreen® Marks World Suicide Prevention Day (Sept. 10, 2010)
NEW YORK – To mark World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10, 2010, the TeenScreen® National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University wants to remind parents and doctors alike that annual depression screening is now recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force and the Institute of Medicine as essential preventive care for adolescents. In addition, annual depression screenings for 12- to 18-year-olds are now a covered service in the new U.S. Federal health reform legislation.
With the 2010 school year underway, TeenScreen urges parents to request a mental health checkup for their teen as a regular part of their annual or back-to-school physical. Mental health checkups can help to identify adolescents at risk for mental health problems, including those who may be at risk for the most dire consequence of untreated mental illness – suicide. Suicide is the third leading cause of death for adolescents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
World Suicide Prevention Day is sponsored by the International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) and the World Health Organization (WHO). The theme for this year’s World Suicide Prevention Day is “Many Faces, Many Places: Suicide Prevention across the World.”
Because many mental health problems are difficult to detect, particularly in the adolescent years, mental health checkups are especially valuable. Each year more than 500,000 teens make a suicide attempt serious enough to require medical attention. According to the National Institute of Mental Health of the National Institutes of Health, more than 90 percent of suicide victims suffer from mental illness at the time of their death. Most of these teens are not in treatment at the time of their deaths.
TeenScreen provides free tools for physicians and school professionals through its TeenScreen Primary Care and TeenScreen Schools and Communities programs. Through its efforts, screening sites have been established in more than 1,000 communities in 44 states.
“World Suicide Prevention Day is an important occasion to remind parents and doctors alike that including a mental health checkup as part of a teen’s regular doctor visit can help identify mental health problems and link at-risk teens to the professional services that can save their lives. Mental health checkups help find teens who are suffering and can be the first step in getting them the help they need,” said Laurie Flynn, executive director, TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University.
“Furthermore, as the theme of this year’s initiative is ‘Many Faces, Many Places,’ it is fitting that TeenScreen assessments are given throughout our country in its many varied regions and with teens of diverse backgrounds – from urban settings (such as hospitals or large clinical practices), suburban physician practices, rural health clinics, schools, shelters, and more,” said Ms. Flynn.
Mental health checkups can be completed in 5-10 minutes as part of a regular health care provider visit or can be administered at school through a qualified screening program. Screening uses a brief, evidence-based questionnaire to help identify teens that may suffer from undetected mental illness and/or exhibit potential risk factors for suicide.
Adolescents who score positive on the screening questionnaire are further evaluated and then if necessary are referred to a mental health professional or treated by their primary care provider. Parents are notified of a positive screen. All referral and treatment decisions are made with parents, health professionals, and teens together.
The TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University offers free screening materials through its TeenScreen Primary Care and TeenScreen Schools and Communities programs.
To interview Laurie Flynn or other experts about mental health screening and suicide prevention, contact Elizabeth Streich at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a fact sheet on some of the latest figures on teen suicide and depression visit http://www.teenscreen.org/about/adolescent-depression-suicide/.
To obtain free screening materials for primary care providers or for more information about TeenScreen Primary Care visit: http://www.teenscreen.org/programs/primary-care/.
For more information about TeenScreen Schools and Communities visit:
For National Institute of Mental Health statistics and prevention information about suicide visit: http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/suicide-in-the-us-statistics-and-prevention/index.shtml.
For more information about World Suicide Prevention Day visit: http://www.iasp.info/wspd/.
The TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University is a non-profit public health initiative and national policy and resource center devoted to increasing youth access to regular mental health checkups. The TeenScreen National Center is affiliated with the Columbia University Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. The National Center provides free tools for physicians and school professionals and supports screening efforts in 44 states and more than 1,000 communities through its TeenScreen Primary Care and TeenScreen Schools and Communities programs. www.teenscreen.org
For more information: