To make matters more alarming for CHADD members, a ten-year longitudinal study of girls with ADHD suggests the risk for girls with combined-type ADHD is significantly higher than for others. Steve Hinshaw and his colleagues (2012) found that the girls with ADHD had higher risk of both suicide and self-injurious behavior than girls without ADHD. Twenty-two percent of the girls with combined-type ADHD (attention problems, impulsivity, and hyperactivity) had made a suicide attempt compared to 6 percent of the control group and 8 percent of girls diagnosed with inattentive-type ADHD. Self-injury was significantly more likely with 51 percent of the ADHD-combined group reporting self-injurious behavior compared to 19 percent of the control group. The researchers suggest the higher incidence may be related to impulsivity, depression, and difficulties with emotional regulation.
So, what is a parent to do? First, don’t hide your head in the sand. Every parent needs to know about the signs of suicidal behavior and what help is available. There are great resources available to help you learn more. Check out the list at the end of this blog. The most important thing to know is suicidal symptoms are treatable.
- Persistent unhappiness
- Withdrawal from friends and activities
- Feelings of sadness and hopelessness
- Over-reactions to criticism
- Preoccupation with death and dying
- Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
- Self-destructive behavior
- Suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempts
Fifth, if you feel there is a chance your child may be depressed and suicidal, then take action. Make a plan and get help immediately. Call 1-800-273-8255, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for immediate guidance. Seek out an appointment with a qualified mental health professional right away. Make sure that any weapons or dangerous substances are locked up and unavailable. And let your teen know that you have heard him or her and are taking these steps to help.
To learn more, here are some great resources:
- A Parent’s Guide to Recognizing and Treating Depression in Your Child
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
- ADHD and Coexisting Conditions: Depression
Ruth Hughes, PhD, is the CEO of CHADD.