Rise in teen suicides after years of declines

A celebrity's son plunged eight stories to his death Friday night in Los Angeles after writing a note that said he was unhappy.

Two Pennsylvania girls in their midteens stood in front of an onrushing Amtrak train last week, having texted how upset they were by a boyfriend's death in a traffic accident.

An academically and athletically gifted junior at Odessa High School came home drunk six years ago, climbed the stairs to his bedroom and put a rifle to his head.

"As a parent, I didn't notice the difference between depression and normal 15- and 16-year-old behavior until after the fact," Tracy Peter said of her son, Evan Hedicke, who was 16 when he killed himself.

What experts are noticing is that after a decline in the 1990s, the number of youths who kill themselves began to rise about five years ago.

Though no one can explain with certainty the reason for the increase, experts point to teens having more pressures at home and at school, financial worries for families and an increase of alcohol and drug use.

"This is a very dangerous time for our young people," said Kathy Harms, a staff psychologist at Kansas City's Crittenton Children’s Center, which provides psychiatric care for children and adolescents. "We're seeing more anxiety and depression in children of all ages. … We see kids as young as 3 who come in."

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