Current treatment for teens that struggle with mental disorders and thoughts of suicide doesn't appear to be helping according to a new study. Adolescents need a more intuitive treatment plan and for the most part, that's not what they are getting.
The Harvard study found that around 1 in every 8 U.S. teens have thought about suicide and nearly 1 in 25 either made plans to or actually attempted suicide.
Researchers collected data on suicidal behaviors from 6,500 teenagers, aged 13 to 18. They also had the teen's parents fill out questionnaires.
Just over 12 percent of the teens said they had thought about suicide and 4 percent said they had created a plan or attempted suicide.
"What adults say is, the highest risk time for first starting to think about suicide is in adolescence," said Matthew Nock, a psychologist who worked on the study at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Researchers found that almost all the teens who had thought about or attempted suicide had a mental disorder including, but not limited to, depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD or abused alcohol or drugs.
While 89 percent of the teens were in treatment for various mental disorders, researchers discovered that 55 percent didn't start their suicidal behavior until after treatment began.
Mental health professionals are not simply meeting with adolescents in response to their suicidal thoughts or behaviors, the authors said.
Nock also noted that the results were both encouraging and disturbing.
"We know that a lot of the kids who are at risk and thinking about suicide are getting (treatment)," he told Reuters Health. However, "We don't know how to stop them - we don't have any evidence-based treatments for suicidal behavior."
Nock believes that treatment is important for teens that have mental disorders or may be having thoughts of suicide, but that treatment needs to be better.