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Depression and Suicide

"Although it is a popular notion that gifted children are at risk for higher rates of depression and suicide than their average, no empirical data supports this belief, except for students who are creatively gifted in the visual arts and writing (see Neihart & Olenchak, this volume).  Nor, however, is there good evidence that rates of depression and suicide are significantly lower among populations of gifted children."  Gifted Children and Depression by Maureen Neihart, in The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know? Recommended by Maureen Neihart, Sally M. Reis, Nancy M. Robinson, Sidney M. Moon

If depression or thoughts or fears of suicide affect you or your child, giftedness doesn't matter.  First, take action: call a professional, intervene.  Next, use these resources, to again find a positive direction in your life... if you are thinking about suicide, read this first...

See also ... Gifted Adolescents, Social / Emotional, Spirituality, Dabrowski's Theory, and possibly Grief & Mourning

if you are thinking about suicide, read this first...
If you are feeling suicidal now, please stop long enough to read this. It will only take about five minutes...
 
National Suicide Hotline 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
ANI, an automatic number identification system, connects callers – people who are depressed or suicidal, or those who are concerned about someone else – automatically to the crisis center nearest to where the call is placed.  Trained crisis line workers answer calls 24x7.  People in crisis who call 1.800.SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) usually reach a trained crisis line worker within two to three rings...
 
Don’t let 20/20 hindsight happen to you Recommended University of Michigan Health Minute update
Everyone needs to be on the lookout for warning signs of teen suicide, say grieving parents and a U-M psychologist.   The warning signs of suicidal thoughts in young people are often confused with the “normal” experiences of the teen years. But it is possible to learn to identify the signs of risk...
 
Existential Depression in Gifted Individuals Recommended by James T. Webb
Persons of higher intellectual ability are more prone to experience existential depression spontaneously...
 
The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Children: What Do We Know? Recommended by Maureen Neihart, Sally M. Reis, Nancy M. Robinson, Sidney M. Moon
What does the research (slim as it is) tell us?  Essential reading for those who wish to enable gifted students to develop their strengths and to position them to make the contributions of which they are capable
 
Adolescence and gifted: Addressing existential dread by J'Anne Ellsworth
Gifted youth may be especially susceptible to experiencing Existential Dread. If teachers, parents and students work together, the following solutions are suggested for consideration: a) nourish students socially, (b) work toward acceptance of giftedness and teach methods for enhancing emotional development, (c) provide philosophical nurturance...
 
Bipolar Disorder in Childhood and Adolescence WebMD
Doctors used to think that bipolar disorder symptoms did not appear until the teen or early adult years. They now believe even a young child may show symptoms of bipolar disorder, although the symptoms in children are often different from those of adults. Early diagnosis and treatment can lead to more effective management, and may reduce the risk of long-term problems that can result when bipolar disorder remains undiagnosed or untreated...
 
Bright star -- black sky: A phenomenological study of depression as a window into the psyche of the gifted adolescent by P. Susan Jackson
Jackson investigated the lived experience of the depressive state of ten gifted adolescents. Analysis revealed a complex stratum of influences fueling the depressive experience. At the core of the experience is the gifted teen's absolute need for knowledge, for communion and for expression. The analysis revealed that the gifted adolescent is at risk for varying degrees of depression when any or all of these needs are stymied...
 
Child & Adolescent Bipolar Foundation
Early intervention and treatment offers the best chance for children with bipolar disorder to achieve stability, gain the best possible level of wellness, and grow up to enjoy their gifts and build upon their strengths. Proper treatment can minimize the adverse effects of the illness on their lives and the lives of those who love them...
 
Countercultural parenting and an open letter to Palo Alto teens by City Mama
In the last six months, there have been four teen suicides in my town. It has been said that kids in our communities face too much pressure--from families, from school, and perhaps from the community at large--to succeed. And not just to succeed, but to excel beyond "normal" high-achiever expectations. Addressing the teen suicide issue head on, she said three things that really stuck in my brain...
 
Dabrowski’s Theory and Existential Depression in Gifted Children and Adults by James T. Webb
People who are bright are usually more intense, sensitive, and idealistic, and they can see the inconsistencies and absurdities in the values and behaviors of others. This kind of sensitive awareness and ideal ism makes them more likely to ask themselves difficult questions... In coping with existential depression, we must realize that existential concerns are not issues that can be dealt with only once, but will probably need frequent revisiting and reconsideration. We can support others and help them understand that disintegration is a necessary step toward new growth and meaning—it can eventually be positive (requires Adobe Reader)
 
Depressive disorder in highly gifted adolescents by Susan Jackson and Jean Peterson
Examines the nature and extent of depressive disorders in highly gifted adolescents based on current literature and data gathered from a phenomenological study, focus groups, and clinical records. Two case studies and clinical examples document the capacity of some highly gifted adolescents to mask even severe symptoms...
 
Dubious drug therapy by Keith Hoeller
...However, in most cases of school shootings, the signs had been noticed, the child had been reported to mental health authorities, he had received a psychiatric diagnosis, he been put on psychiatric medications and was taking the medications...
 
Frequently Asked Questions About Early-Onset Bipolar Disorder
Early-onset bipolar disorder is manic-depression that appears early--very early--in life. For many years it was assumed that children could not suffer the mood swings of mania or depression, but researchers are now reporting that bipolar disorder (or early temperamental features of it) can occur in very young children, and that it is much more common that previously thought...
 
Good-bye, M.B. by Tamara Fisher, in Unwrapping the Gifted
Some people tend to assume that suicide occurs less frequently among this group of bright kids who seem to have everything going for them. Other people tend to assume that it occurs more often among the gifted because the existential nature of a gifted person (including existential depression) can lend itself to some dark thinking...
 
Issues in the Social and Emotional Adjustment of Gifted Children: What Does the Literature Say? by Linda Versteynen
There has been a surge of research attempting to find out whether gifted students are better adjusted or are at more at risk for adjustment problems. There is research to support both views, which makes it difficult to come to any conclusions... gifted children's social and emotional adjustment is related to the type of giftedness, educational fit, and personal characteristics...
 
Myths & Facts about Suicide
Unfortunately there is a great deal of misunderstanding about suicide, and sometimes misunderstanding might prevent people from seeking the help they need...
 
On Education
A poem written by a high school senior in Alton, Illinois, two weeks before he committed suicide
 
Only the bright commit suicide by Sean Thomas
Does a controversial theory linking intelligence with suicide rates help to explain why so many scientists kill themselves?
 
The Power to Prevent Suicide: A Guide for Teens Helping Teens by Richard E. Nelson & Judith C. Galas
Written for teens who may find themselves helping a friend, with easy to remember ideas and suggestions about suicide, and about how to be a "suicide preventer"...
 
A Psychological Autopsy of the Suicide of an Academically Gifted Student: Researchers' and Parents' Perspectives by Tracy L. Cross, Karyn Gust-Brey, and P. Bonny Hall
Follows the subject across 21 years of life, highlighting relevant milestones and significant stages and events.  A comprehensive view of the life and death of a gifted student...
 
Suicide Among Gifted Adolescents: How to Prevent It by Denise de Souza Fleith
The most salient characteristics of gifted adolescents that may be associated with vulnerability to social and emotional disturbances are: (a) perfectionism, (b) supersensitivy, (c) social isolation, and (d) sensory overexcitability...
 
Teens and Depression WebMD
It is common for adolescents to occasionally feel unhappy. However, when the unhappiness lasts for more than two weeks, and the teen experiences other symptoms typical of depression, then he or she may be suffering from depression...
 
Teen Suicide American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-to-24-year-olds, and the sixth leading cause of death for 5-to-14-year-olds.  For some teens, suicide may appear to be a solution to their problems and stress...
 
Too Stressed To Think?: A Teen Guide To Staying Sane When Life Makes You Crazy by Annie Fox and Ruth Kirschner
Basics on stress and stress management, then details on the most stressful stuff in teen lives: family, friends, school, and boyfriends / girlfriends ...
 
The Trevor Project
... a nonprofit endeavor to promote acceptance of gay and questioning teenagers, and to aid in suicide prevention among that group
 
The Turning Hour by Shelley Fraser Mickle 
With impressive credibility, and even humor, The Turning Hour explores the tragic and potentially maudlin subject of teen suicide, creating an engrossing narrative that manages to avoid sentimentality and bathos. Based on a real incident, the novel interweaves the story of Bergin Talbot, a smart, popular 17-year-old whose attempt at suicide initially seems inexplicable, with that of her mother, Leslie, a public defender who's found contentment in a second marriage. Having survived physically (she's discovered by her stepbrother), Bergin must confront a soul-searing spiritual question, "how do I get back?" The background to her desperate act and her struggle to return to a normal life, to bond again with her mother and the rest of the family, and to fit in again with her peers, are detailed with psychological acuity and genuine feeling...
 
Understanding and Assessing Suicide in the Gifted by Andrew Mahoney
When discussing the topic of suicide among the gifted population, one runs into the same divergent, often unexplainable, ambiguity associated with this special population. Though there is no conclusive evidence that the gifted are more prone to suicide than the non-gifted, suicide among the gifted is a serious issue...
 
When Living Hurts: what-to-do book for yourself or someone you care about who feels discouraged, sad, lonely, hopeless, angry or frustrated, unhappy, bored, depressed, suicidal by Sol Gordon 
Insightful, direct book, written for young people who are in trouble or for those who wish to help those in trouble.  Identifies early warning signs of suicide, suggests how to get help for different kinds of problems, and offers ways to cope creatively with anxiety, anger frustration, sadness, loneliness or depression...
 
When Nothing Matters Anymore: A Survival Guide for Depressed Teens by Bev Cobain
Teens learn how to recognize depression in themselves and others, understand its effects, and take care of themselves by relaxing, exercising, eating right, and talking things over with people who care. For some teens, self-help isn't enough, so Bev also tells about treatment options, presents the facts about therapy, explains the differences between various types of helping professionals (psychiatrists, clinical psychologists, physicians, counselors, etc.), discusses medications, and more.  This book is for any teen who feels hopeless, helpless, and alone. It's also recommended for parents, teachers, and counselors who want to know more about teen depression...
 

Last updated January 19, 2013

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