New study shows alarming statistics on teen suicide in Oklahoma

By: Daniel Armbruster Email
By: Daniel Armbruster Email

ARDMORE, OK -- A national study just released shows some frightening numbers when it comes teen suicide, especially in southern Oklahoma. That study shows 15 percent of teens think they're going to die young, leading to risky behavior, including suicide attempts. Daniel Armbruster has more.

Between 2000 and 2006, 40% of all suicides in Marshall and Love Counties are teenagers. In Murray County, teens made up 37% of all suicides. That number goes down to 22% in Johnston County, and in Carter County 13% of all suicides between the years of 2000 and 2006 were committed by teenagers.

They numbers are chilling, but according to a newly released study it may be because some teens feel their lives are going nowhere and there's just not much at stake.

Deana Tharp with Mental Health Services of Southern Oklahoma says that is one of the main reasons for suicides of any age.

"They will do it only after feeling depressed or hopeless. It's not just you know they're fine one minute and attempt suicide the next," Tharp says.

The study shows that 15% of teens feel they are going to die young, which may lead them to drug use, suicide, and risky behavior like unprotected sex.

Nan May with YW8, Inc. says these behaviors can all be linked together, and when looking at suicide, gender matters.

"Boys that are sexually active are eight times more likely to attempt suicide, where for girls the thought is the opposite, girls are only three times more likely and we think that three times is high and when we look at our boys and see 8 times, that's horrific," May says.

YW8 is an abstinence-based education program, telling teens wait until marriage to have sex.

According to the program, two-thirds of all sexually active teens regret engaging in sex, and 14% of teen girls who have had intercourse attempt suicide, while only 5% of sexually inactive teen girls do.
As for boys, six percent of sexually active boys have attempted suicide, while less than 1% of sexually inactive teen boys have attempted suicide.

May says it's because teens aren't physically prepared to handle the emotional consequences of risky behavior.

"Their brains aren't going to be finished connecting their frontal lobes until their mid twenties, and at younger ages we're expecting our teens to perform, and even experience situations in the high-risk behaviors that they're not ready to. They don't have the skill set and we assume that they're okay."

If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, you can contact the Mental Health Service's 24-Hour Suicide Hotline at 1-800-522-1090.


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