From NEJM Journal Watch
January 14, 2019
By Amy Orciari Herman
Parents are frequently unaware of their adolescents’ suicidal thoughts, and adolescents often deny the suicidal thoughts their parents report, according to a Pediatrics study.
A community-based sample of 5100 adolescents aged 11 to 17 were asked whether they had ever thought about killing themselves (suicidal ideation) or whether they’d ever had recurrent thoughts of death; parents answered the same questions about their adolescents.
Some 8% of adolescents reported that they’d ever thought about suicide, but parents were aware just half the time. Additionally, 15% reported recurrent thoughts of death, but parents were aware 25% of the time. Parents were particularly unaware of suicidal ideation in younger adolescents. Of note, teens denied parent-reported suicidal thoughts half the time.
The researchers write, “It is possible that a large number of adolescents with suicide risk may not be detected by brief screens at routine check-ups. This highlights the urgent need for continued training of pediatric primary care physicians in the evaluation and management of suicidal ideation and the importance of collecting information from multiple informants and rectifying discrepant reports.”