Suicide has jumped form the third to the second leading cause of death for teens, and the AAP says pediatricians are uniquely positioned to spot risk factors that could lead to suicidal ideation or behaviors.
I want to commend the new Clinical Report, “Suicide and Suicide Attempts in Adolescents,” issued by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Committee on Adolescence. The lead author, Benjamin Shain, MD, and the Committee wrote a clear, concise, well-referenced report that is highly relevant to the practicing primary care pediatrician.
Under the Affordable Care Act, most health plans are required to cover preventive services such as depression screening for adults and behavioral assessments for children. That means more patients will be turning to their primary care doctors for help with emotional and behavioral health problems.
More than 70% of primary care visits are related to psychosocial issues, including anxiety and depression. Although few primary care physicians currently have the resources to help patients address those issues, a new program may show that investing in those services is worthwhile both for the provider and the patient.
Pediatric primary care providers who screen, identify, and treat adolescents for depression and its comorbidities can make a positive difference in their patients’ long-term health, social functioning, and interpersonal relationships.