According to an influential group of American physicians, adolescents and parents need help recognizing that suicide is a problem in their own communities.

Education is also needed to help identify teens that are suicidal.

According to a study, “Attitudes and Beliefs of Adolescents and Parents Regarding Adolescent Suicide,” published in the February issue of Pediatrics, in the United States in 2006, 1,771 children and adolescents ages 10 to 19 committed suicide.

The tragedies made suicide the third leading cause of death in this age group.

To design a better suicide prevention program, researchers set out to understand what interventions would be most effective.

In focus groups in Chicago and Kansas City, both teenagers and their parents correctly identified many of the known risk factors for suicide, including mental illness, alcohol and substance abuse, relational or social loss, and hopelessness.

However, study authors said it was concerning that some of the parents reported regular drug and alcohol use as being a normal part of adolescent development, rather than problem behavior.

Parents and teens suggested guns should be removed if an adolescent is known to be suicidal, but parents acknowledged they may not be able to identify a suicidal teen. Parents and teens didn’t think suicide was a problem in their communities.

All groups were interested in learning how to identify and intervene with a suicidal adolescent. Study authors conclude pediatricians should regularly screen all adolescents in their offices and encourage families to be open to discussing depression and suicide.

Source: American Academy of Pediatrics