Reports claim that, of 500,000 teenagers giving birth each year, more than 80 percent end up in poverty and reliant
on welfare, many for the majority of their children's critically important developmental years. Compared with children born
to mothers between the ages of twenty and twenty-one, the children of teenage mothers are much more likely to suffer poor
health, perform poorly in school, live in poverty, be neglected or abused, and engage in criminal activity. The economic burden
to society of mothers under the age of seventeen, in terms of welfare, medical care, increased foster care, and other costs,
is $6.9 billion a year.
There’s a definite link between teenage pregnancy and many of society's most
serious problems, such as failure in school, child abuse, drug abuse, and crime. According to Fields, Conservative columnist,
the quest for instant gratification among both girls and boys is the hear of the problem of teenage pregnancy.
Super Predators: that means that the increasing numbers of children born to children are likely to repeat the devastating
cycles of almost everything bad-teen-age pregnancy, school failure, early behavioral problems, drug abuse, child abuse, depression
and crime. As the numbers of girls increase, so do the number of teen-age boys. Many of them will be what John DiIulio, Princeton professor and intellectual
crime-fighter, calls "loveless, godless and jobless.” These young men, says Mr. DiIulio, are likely to become "super
predators, "violent young men without the slightest conscience. No neighborhood will be safe from such foul children.
Teenage sex is dangerous not only for a young person's health but the health of our society
because trouble is reproducing trouble. Such raging hormones seeking immediate gratification may even be addictive (without
artificial additives). One generation's sexual promiscuity becomes the next generation's crime wave.
Teen pregnancies have intensified poverty, poor health,
crime, and other social pathologies.
The social science evidence now available shows
conclusively that children suffer when they grow up in any family situation other than an intact two-parent family formed
by their biological father and mother who are married to each other.
who grow up in single-parent families invariably suffer. The greatest suffering and deprivation, however-for both mothers
and children-comes about from unmarried teenage pregnancy.
of Teen pregnancy: teenage pregnancy has costs to the mothers, to the children, and to the larger society and nation. In 1987,
more than 19$ billion in public funds was spent for income maintenance, health care, and nutrition for support of families
begun by teenagers. Babies born to teenagers have a high risk of being born with low birth weight, and low birth weight requires
initial hospital care averaging $20,000 per infant. The total lifetime medical costs for each low-birth-weight infant average
$400,000. For all adolescents (married and unmarried) giving birth, 46 percent go on welfare within four years, and 73 percent
of unmarried teenagers giving birth go on welfare within four years.
Members of these single-parent-headed, welfare-receiving families
are at very high risk of remaining poor and ill educated throughout their lives. When married women go on welfare, they tend
to get off welfare within few years. When unmarried women go on welfare, they tend to remain there permanently.
Numerous studies of child development have shown that growing
up as the child of a single parent is linked with lower levels of academic achievement (having to repeat grades in school
or receiving lower marks and class standing); increased levels of depression, stress, and aggression; a decrease in some indicators
for physical health; higher incidences of needing the services of mental health professionals; and other emotional and behavioral
problems. All these effects are linked with lifetime poverty, poor achievement, and susceptibility to suicide, likelihood
of committing crimes and being arrested, and other pathologies….
equips humans with two differing timetables for maturity; physical and sexual maturity comes first, and emotional and psychological
maturity appears later. Teenagers, particularly younger ones, are poorly equipped with the ability to foresee the consequences
of their acts and plan accordingly. Teens tend to see themselves as invulnerable to risks. Moreover, this is a time of life
when peer pressure and media pressure for engaging in sex are especially acute.
There is reliable but anecdotal evidence that, at least for many inner-city and other poor unmarried teenage girls,
their pregnancies are not actually unplanned but actively desired. These studies conclude that the girls are not ignorant
about contraception; they do not use it because they actually yearn for babies. Their emotional and psychological immaturity,
however, does not allow them to know or understand the real consequences of motherhood, especially teenage motherhood. This
is the phenomenon commonly called "babies having babies "Typically, a poor girl who has a baby while unmarried is especially
vulnerable to becoming pregnant again while still in her teens.
Technological solutions: the received approach to the problem
of teenage pregnancy has been "technological," in that it has relied on providing teenagers with the technology for avoiding
pregnancy, or, once pregnant, with abortions as a technological solution to the pregnancy. But rising rates of teenage pregnancy,
abortion and births to teenage mothers show that these technological solutions have been anything but effective. Advanced
as the "realistic" answer to the out-of-wedlock pregnancy problem, these interventions have come athwart the reality of failure
statistics. Abortion has reduced the overall adolescent birthrate, but the unmarried adolescent birthrate has gone up dramatically
since 1970. Adolescent have become slightly more efficient users of contraception in recent years, but they remain dramatically
less so than the adult married population.
Moral Grounds: Perhaps it is time to abandon technological solutions and return to teaching abstinence on moral grounds.
Although it sometimes failed, teaching children to abstain was socially, psychologically, and medically far more effective
than any of the methods introduced by the sexual revolution-a revolution that was supposed to offer us freedom but that seems
instead to have failed us, threatening our livelihoods, our civil order, and perhaps even our liberty itself.
A Coping Mechanism: Unfortunately, many teen males and females do not have the good fortune of living in [stable family]
situations and do not see much of a future for themselves. Most young people see little employment opportunity around them
and will probably face a life of low economic status, ever-present racism, and inadequate opportunities for quality education….
Under such conditions, it is no wonder that some young people, instead of becoming industrious and hopeful, become sexually
intimate for a short-term sense of comfort, and ultimately become profoundly fatalistic. In such cases, intercourse is used
as a coping mechanism. Youth workers, teachers, and counselors must replace the use of that coping mechanism with concrete
and hopeful (not rhetorical) alternatives such as decent employment, a bank account, improvement in school, a place in college,
or a meaningful career or vocational track. These are elements that produce desirable outcomes in young people and reduce
teen pregnancy, teen violence, and teen substance abuse.
Michael A. Carrera, Siecus Report, August/September 1995.
Teenage mothers view childbearing as the one thing they can do that is socially responsible, gives meaning to their
lives and offers hope for future.
Sociologists sometimes use the term "life script" to refer to the sense individuals have
of the timing and progression of the major events in their lives. At an early age, we internalize our life script as it is
modeled for us by our family and community. The typical middle-class American script is familiar to most readers: childhood,
a protracted period of adolescence and young adulthood required for training in a complex society, beginning of work and,
only then, marriage and childbearing. The assumption is not merely that young adults should be financially self-supporting
before they have children. It is also that they must achieve a degree of maturity by putting the storms of adolescence well
behind them before taking on the demanding responsibility of molding their own children's identity.
Factors contributing to teenage pregnancy:
4- Lack of parental influence.
How can teenage pregnancy be prevented?
3- Increased educational and economic opportunity
Source: Teenage pregnancy opposing viewpoints
AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome)
Acquired is used to distinguish the condition from inherited
defects of the immune system that are present at birth. Syndrome refers to a collection of symptoms and signs of illness that
commonly occur together.
What Is AIDS?
Defining a Disease
AIDS is a collection of diseases caused by infections
that may hit a person whose immune system has been weakened by HIV. AIDS can also include some direct effects of HIV infection,
such as a severe loss of weight and muscle tissue and damage to the brain and mental functions. Doctors detect HIV and follow
the course of the disease by measuring the amount of the virus in the blood and tissues. They also count the number of a type
of white blood cells called CD4 cells (the helper T cells) that are infected and destroyed by HIV.
It took a long time and a lot of research to
arrive at this definition of AIDS. The 1987 definition of AIDS in adults and adolescents included laboratory evidence of HIV
infection, various opportunistic infections and rare cancers, neurological disease due to infection of the brain by HIV or
by the parasite Taxoplasma, and the HIV wasting syndrome (a persistent drop in weight and loss of muscle tissue).
The definition was revised and went into effect
at the beginning of 1993. It added conditions such as invasive cervical cancer, recurrent pneumonia, and pulmonary tuberculosis,
as well as a CD4 cell count below 200 cells per cubic millimeter of blood. (The normal range for CD4 cells is from 500 to
1500 cells per cubic millimeter.)
The new case definition adopted by the CDC in
1993 also established a series of categories from the early to the late stages of HIV/AIDS disease. First, there may be a
short, flu like illness following the first exposure to HIV. Then, there is a long period in which the person is infected
but does not show any symptoms. This period can last for years, and the person may be unaware that he or she is infected.
In the next stage, the lymph nodes become swollen, because the body is battling the multiplying virus. Finally, a variety
of symptoms and complication appear. Loss of appetite, weight loss, fever, rashes, night sweats, and fatigue are typical symptoms
of AIDS. The person may also develop memory loss, confusion, and various other mental problems due to infection of the brain
by the virus. Weakening of the immune system opens the way for opportunistic infections such as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia
(PCP), Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC), toxoplasmosis, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and herpes infections, and CMV retinitis (which
can cause blindness). The breakdown of the body's defenses against disease may also allow various cancers to develop, including
Kaposi's sarcoma (KS), lymphomas, and invasive cervical cancer. Another common effect is the HIV wasting syndrome, a sever
loss of weight and muscle tissue.
Ironically, most of the symptoms typically linked
with AIDS are caused not by the infection itself but by the other diseases that set in after HIV has dangerously weakened
the body's defenses. Coughing and shortness of breath are symptoms of pneumonia. Rashes and sores on the skin or in the mouth
may be caused by fungus or herpes virus infections. Confusion, memory loss, and other mental problems may be due to HIV infection,
but they can also be caused by attack on the brain by the parasite Taxoplasma. The purplish Kaposi's sarcoma. The great variety
of opportunistic microbes that can attack a person with AIDS is responsible for the great variety of symptoms, which made
it difficult at first for medical researchers to determine that they were dealing with a single disease. (If AIDS had been
named later, it probably would not have been called a syndrome, but rather HIV disease.)
Who Gets AIDS?
When AIDS first appeared in the United
States, it seemed to be a disease of gay men. Since then, however, it has become evident
that it can strike people of both sexes, all ages, all races, and all sexual orientations. In United
States, the largest group of people with AIDS is still men who have sex with men (48 percent
of all cases reported up to the end of 1997), but injection drug users account for 25 percent (plus an additional 6 percent
who fall into both exposure groups). The proportions of both men and women who acquired AIDS through heterosexual contact,
after increasing steadily for years, dropped somewhat in 1997, to 9 percent of the total up to that point. Children under
thirteen years of age accounted for only 8086 (a little more than one percent) of the total of 641,086 cases reported in the
U.S. through the end of 1997. The majority of AIDS cases (482,168
or 75 percent) had been diagnosed in people from age twenty-five to forty-four. Blacks and Hispanics were represented far
in excess of their proportions in the general population (230,029 and 115,354 cases, or 36 percent and 18 percent of the cases,
respectively). While AIDS was no longer the leading killer of all adults in the twenty-five to forty-four age groups after
the decrease in AIDS deaths in 1996, it was still the leading killer in that age group for black men and women.
HIV: The AIDS Virus
The life cycle of HIV has two main parts. The
first part starts when an HIV virion attaches itself to the outside of a cell. Its outer membrane merges with the cell's outer
membrane, and the material from the virus's core moves into the cell. There it is like an uninvited guest that not only makes
itself at home but soon starts running the household. Using the materials of the host cell, the viral enzymes go to work,
copying the HIV genetic material. The completed DNA copy of the HIV genes will be copied every time the cell divides and reproduces
its own genes. In some cells the life cycle may stop there. The HIV genes may remain quietly hidden among the host cell's
genes, apparently doing nothing at all. This situation may go on for years. But then something may happen to start off the
second part of the virus's life cycle-for example, when an infected white blood cell is activated to fight invading germs.
At that point the hidden virus uses its host cell as a factory to produce and release new HIV virions.
The Body Defends Itself
The body's first line of defense against invading
germs is a set of barriers: the skin that covers the outer surface and the slippery, mucus-covered membranes that line the
mouth, nose, and other passages that lead into the body. A cut or sore in these coverings might allow germs to slip into the
bloodstream. Some germs are also capable of infecting mucous membranes. Cold viruses, for example, can infect cells in the
respiratory tract; HIV can infect cells in the lining of the rectum, vagina, and penis.
Cells that are attacked by a virus release various
chemicals. Some of them act as distress signals that call in white blood cells, the body's roving defenders. Several kinds
of white blood cells help fight invading germs. Some, called macrophages (literally, "big cells that eat"), gobble up invading
germs, destroying them before they can infect cells. Others, the lymphocytes, are able to recognize foreign chemicals, such
as the proteins on the outer coat of a virus. Some of these lymphocyte, called B cells, produce antibodies, proteins that
fir parts of virus proteins. Antibodies attach to viruses, preventing them from attacking their target cells of making them
easier for macrophages to destroy. Antibodies also tag virus-infected cells, marking them for destruction. Several kinds of
lymphocytes are called T cells. Killer T cells kill infected cells and cancer cells. Helper T cells stimulate B cells to multiply
and produce antibodies. The macrophages, T cells, and B cells are constantly communicating with one another and coordinating
their activities by way of a stream of chemical messengers carried by the bloodstream and tissue fluids.
Once a person has antibodies that protect against
a particular virus, some of the antibody-producing cells are kept "on file" in the body, ready to leap into action if the
same type of virus attacks again. It generally takes about two weeks to make an adequate supply of antibodies to fight a virus
the body has never met before; during that time the viruses multiply while the body's less specific defenses try to keep them
AIDS an all-about guide for young adults
By: Alvin &Virginia Silverstein& Laura Silverstein Nunn
Study links depression, suicide rates to teen sex
By Karen S. Peterson, USA
A controversial new study links teen sexual intercourse
with depression and suicide attempts.
The findings are particularly true for young
girls, says the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that sponsored the research. About 25% of sexually active
girls say they are depressed all, most, or a lot of the time; 8% of girls who are not sexually active feel the same.
The Heritage study taps the government-funded
National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent Health. The Heritage researchers selected federal data on 2,800 students ages 14-17.
The youngsters rated their own "general state of continuing unhappiness" and were not diagnosed as clinically depressed.
The Heritage researchers do not find a causal
link between "unhappy kids" and sexual activity, says Robert Rector, a senior researcher with Heritage. "This is really impossible
to prove." But he says that study findings send a clear message about unhappy teens that differs from one portrayed in the
popular culture, that "all forms of non-marital sexual activity are wonderful and glorious, particularly the younger
(teen) the better," he says.
The Heritage study finds:
• About 14% of girls who have had intercourse have attempted
suicide; 5% of sexually inactive girls have.
• About 6% of sexually active boys have tried suicide;
less than 1% of sexually inactive boys have.
Tamara Kreinin of the Sexuality Information and Education Council
of the United States (SIECUS) says "we need to take depression
among the young very seriously." But it is a "disservice" to blame sexual activity and ignore "divorce, domestic violence,
sexual abuse, substance abuse, lack of parental and community support and questions about sexual orientation," she says. SIECUS
supports school programs with information on birth control and abstinence.
Most everyone at some time in his or her life
will experience periods of anxiety, sadness, and despair. These are normal reactions to the pain of loss, rejection, or disappointment.
Those with serious mental illnesses, however, often experience much more extreme reactions, reactions that can leave them
mired in hopelessness. And when all hope is lost, some feel that suicide is the only solution. It isn’t.
According to the National Institute of Mental
Health, scientific evidence has shown that almost all people who take their own lives have a diagnosable mental or substance
abuse disorder, and the majority have more than one disorder. In other words, the feelings that often lead to suicide are
highly treatable. That’s why it is imperative that we better understand the symptoms of the disorders and the behaviors
that often accompany thoughts of suicide. With more knowledge, we can often prevent the devastation of losing a loved one.
Now the eighth-leading cause of death overall
in the U.S. and the third-leading cause of death for young
people between the ages of 15 and 24 years, suicide has become the subject of much recent focus. U.S. Surgeon General David
Satcher, for instance, recently announced his Call to Action to Prevent Suicide, 1999, an initiative intended to increase
public awareness, promote intervention strategies, and enhance research. The media, too, has been paying very close
attention to the subject of suicide, writing articles and books and running news stories. Suicide among our nation’s
youth, population very vulnerable to self-destructive emotions has perhaps received the most discussion of late. Maybe this
is because teenage suicide seems the most tragic—lives lost before they’ve even started. Yet, while all of this
recent focus is good, it’s only the beginning. We cannot continue to lose so many lives unnecessarily.
Some Basic Facts
In 1996, more teenagers and young adults died
of suicide than from cancer, heart disease, AIDS, birth defects, stroke, pneumonia and influenza, and chronic lung disease
In 1996, suicide was the second-leading cause
of death among college students, the third-leading cause of death among those aged 15 to 24 years, and the fourth- leading
cause of death among those aged 10 to 14 years.
From 1980 to 1996, the rate of suicide among African-American
males aged 15 to 19 years increased by 105 percent.
It is a hopeful sign that while the incidence
of suicide among adolescents and young adults nearly tripled from 1965 to 1987; teen suicide rates in the past ten years have
actually been declining, possibly due to increased recognition and treatment. (1996 is the most recent year for which suicide
statistics are available.)
There are many behavioral indicators that can
help parents or friends recognize the threat of suicide in a loved one. Since mental and substance-related disorders so frequently
accompany suicidal behavior, many of the cues to be looked for are:
Symptoms associated with such disorders as depression,
bipolar disorder (manic depression), anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use, disruptive behavior disorders, borderline personality
disorder, and schizophrenia.
Some common symptoms of these disorders include:
Extreme personality changes
Loss of interest in activities that used to be enjoyable
Significant loss or gain in appetite
Difficulty falling asleep or wanting to sleep all day
Fatigue or loss of energy
Feelings of worthlessness or guilt
Withdrawal from family and friends
Neglect of personal appearance or hygiene
Sadness, irritability, or indifference
Having trouble concentrating
Extreme anxiety or panic
Drug or alcohol use or abuse
Aggressive, destructive, or defiant behavior
Poor school performance
Hallucinations or unusual beliefs
Tragically, many of these signs go unrecognized.
And while suffering from one of these symptoms certainly does not necessarily mean that one is suicidal, it’s always
best to communicate openly with a loved one who has one or more of these behaviors, especially if they are unusual for that
There are also some more obvious signs of the
potential for committing suicide. Putting one’s affairs in order, such as giving or throwing away favorite belongings,
is a strong clue. And it can’t be stressed more strongly that any talk of death or suicide should be taken seriously
and paid close attention to. It is a sad fact that while many of those who commit suicide talked about it beforehand, only
33 percent to 50 percent were identified by their doctors as having a mental illness at the time of their death and only 15
percent of suicide victims were in treatment at the time of their death. Any history of previous suicide attempts is also
reason for concern and watchfulness. Approximately one-third of teens who die by suicide have made a previous suicide attempt.
It should be noted as well that while more females attempt suicide, more males are successful in completing suicide.
While the reasons that teens commit suicide
vary widely, there are some common situations and circumstances that seem to lead to such extreme measures. These include
major disappointment, rejection, failure, or loss such as breaking up with a girlfriend or boyfriend, failing a big exam,
or witnessing family turmoil. Since the overwhelming majority of those who commit suicide have a mental or substance-related
disorder, they often have difficulty coping with such crippling stressors. They are unable to see that their life can turn
around, unable to recognize that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. Usually, the common reasons for suicide
listed above are actually not the "causes" of the suicide, but rather triggers for suicide in a person suffering from a mental
illness or substance-related disorder.
More recently, scientists have focused on the
biology of suicide. Suicide is thought by some to have a genetic component, to run in families. And research has shown strong
evidence that mental and substance-related disorders, which commonly affect those who end up committing suicide, do run in
families. While the suicide of a relative is obviously not a direct "cause" of suicide, it does, perhaps, put certain individuals
at more risk than others. Certainly, the suicide of one’s parent or other close family member could lead to thoughts
of such behavior in a teen with a mental or substance-related disorder.
Sunday December 5th
Suicide And America's
My name is Phil and last year I lost my son to suicide.
He was only 17.
If you were like me ... chances are that you
don't know anything about suicide or noticing the warning signs ... I know that I didn't ... but I do now.
My wife and I have put this together for both
adults looking for some for information in how to prevent this from happening to their children and also for other teens looking
For every two homicides in the U.S. there are three
Every hour and forty-five minutes another young person commits suicide.
Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among college students and the third-leading cause of death among youth overall
Teen/youth suicide rates have tripled since 1970.
It is estimated that 300 to 400 teen suicides
occur per year in Los Angeles County;
this is equivalent to one teenager lost every day.
Evidence indicates that for every suicide, they are 50 to 100
attempts at suicide.
Due to the stigma associated with suicide, available
statistics may well underestimate the problem. Nevertheless, these figures do underscore the urgent need to seek a solution
to the suicide epidemic among our young people.
Mental Illness: Ninety percent of adolescent
suicide victims have at least one diagnosable, active psychiatric illness at the time of death most often depression, substance
abuse, and conduct disorders. Only 15% of suicide victims were in treatment at the time of death.
Previous Attempts: Between 26% and 33% of adolescent suicide
victims have made a previous suicide attempt.
Stressors: Suicide in youth often occurs after the victim has
gotten into some sort of trouble or has experienced a recent disappointment or rejection.
Firearms: Having a firearm in the home greatly increases the
risk of youth suicide. Sixty-four percent of suicide victims 10-24 years old use a firearm to complete the act.
TEENAGE PREGNANCY RATE DROPS FOR 10TH STRAIGHT YEAR
Rates Declined in Every State
In 2000, nearly 83.6 in 1,000 women aged 15-19
became pregnant-a 28% decline from 1990, when the teenage pregnancy rate reached a high of 116.9 per 1,000 women. Declines
also took place among all racial and ethnic groups and in every state in 2000, according to new data from The Alan Guttmacher
Institute. The teenage birth and abortion rates also declined between 1990 and 2000. (Pregnancies are calculated as the sum
of births, miscarriages (including stillbirths) and abortions.)
Declines also occurred among adolescents in
all racial and ethnic groups. The pregnancy rate among black women aged 15-19 declined 32% between 1990 and 2000 to 153 per
1,000 women; among white teenagers it declined 28% to 71 per 1,000. The rate among Hispanic teenagers fell 15% from 1992-2000
(following a brief increase from 1990-1992) to 139 per 1,000.
Previous research suggests that both declines
in sexual activity and increased use of more effective contraceptives are responsible for the continued declines in teenage
pregnancy. An analysis by researchers at The Alan Guttmacher Institute found that about 25% of the decline in teenage pregnancy
between 1988 and 1995 was due to decreased sexual activity, while 75% was due to more effective contraceptive practice. This
analysis utilized sexual behavior data from the 1995 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG). The next NSFG has not yet been
Completed Suicides in the U.S.
Suicide was the 11th leading cause of death in the United
It was the 8th leading cause of death for males, and 19th leading
cause of death for females.
The total number of suicide deaths was 29,199 equals to almost
80 people per day equals to nearly 3 people per hour.
1.3% of total deaths were from suicide. By contrast, 30.3%
were from diseases of the heart, 23% were from malignant neoplasm (cancer), and 7% from cerebrovascular disease (stroke),
the three leading causes.
Suicide outnumbered homicides (16,899) by 5 to 3.
There were twice as many deaths due to suicide than deaths
due to HIV/AIDS (14,802).
There were almost exactly the same numbers of suicides by firearm
(16,889) as homicides (16,599).
Suicide by firearms was the most common method for both men
and women, accounting for 57% of all suicides.
More men than women die by suicide.
The gender ratio is 4:1.
72% of all suicides are committed by white men.
79% of all firearm suicides are committed by white men.
Among the highest rates (when categorized by gender and race)
are suicide deaths for white men over 85, who had a rate of 59/100,000.
Suicide was the 3rd leading cause of death among young people
15 to 24 years of age, following unintentional injuries and homicide. The rate was 10.3/100,000, or .01%.
The suicide rate among children ages 10-14 was 1.2/100,000,
or 192 deaths among 19,608,000 children in this age group.
The 1999 gender ratio for this age group was 4:1 (males: females).
The suicide rate among adolescents aged 15-19 was 8.2/100,000,
or 1,615 deaths among 19,594,000 adolescents in this age group.
The 1999 gender ratio for this age group was 5:1 (males: females).
Among young people 20 to 24 years of age the suicide rate was
12.7/100,000, or 2,285 deaths among 17,594,000 people in this age group.
* The 1999 gender ratio for this age group was 6:1 (males:
Attempted Suicides in the U.S.
No annual national data on attempted suicide are available;
reliable scientific research, however, has found that:
There are an estimated 8-25 attempted suicides to one completion;
the ratio is higher in women and youth and lower in men and the elderly
More women than men report a history of attempted
suicide, with a gender ratio of 3:1
The strongest risk factors for attempted suicide in adults
are depression, alcohol abuse, cocaine use, and separation or divorce.
The strongest risk factors for attempted suicide
in youth are depression, alcohol or other drug use disorder, and aggressive or disruptive behaviors
Source: National Institute of Mental Health
Depression during Pregnancy and Early Parenthood
During pregnancy and early motherhood, some women report that
Some women comment:
'I'm just so worried about everything'.
'I want to cry all the time’
'I can't concentrate; I don't seem able to do anything’
'How can I feel so bad when I've got this beautiful baby?'
'I'm confused and have no energy'.
'I'm tired so tired, but I can't sleep'.
'People are only interested in the baby no-one is interested
in how I feel'.
'I don't want to see anyone'.
If you frequently experience a number of these feelings, you
may be suffering depression.
Depression disrupts women's lives at a crucial time and can
have effects on the baby, older children and couple relationship. Levels of depression for fathers also increase significantly
in the year following childbirth.
Signs and symptoms of depression include:
Always exhausted or hyperactive.
Not being able to sleep even when you have the chance.
Crying uncontrollably or feeling teary.
Finding that your moods change dramatically.
Feeling very irritable or sensitive to noise or touch.
Constantly thinking in a negative way.
Unrealistic feelings that you are inadequate.
Anxiety or panic attacks.
Not being able to concentrate.
Becoming more forgetful.
Confusion and guilt.
Loss of interest in sex or other things you liked.
Feeling scared, alone, but also not wanting to be with other
Eating too little or too much.
Feeling unable to cope.
Preoccupied with obsessive or morbid thoughts.
Thoughts of self harm or harm to your baby.
Loss of confidence and low self esteem.
Inability to enjoy yourself.
Persistent low mood, together with some of these feelings,
for a period of at least 2 weeks, may indicate clinical depression. This may require further assessment and treatment.
Causes of Depression
Depression can occur at any time in your life. It is usually
related to some major event that needs to be coped with. These events can include:
Change in Family Relationships:
Child or other family member moving away from home or 'leaving
Health Related Events:
Personal injury / illness.
Illness of close family member.
Work Related / Financial Events:
Being fired / losing your job.
Partner starting / stopping work.
Debt or loss of property.
There are also a number of important risk factors that can
make women more vulnerable to depression both before and after birth. These include:
Family history of depression.
Previous depressive episode.
Poor relationship with partner / no partner.
Lack of perceived support from those close to you.
Difficult or unhappy childhood.
Delivery complications for mother or baby.
Premature, post mature or multiple births.
Negative feelings toward or limited bonding with baby.
Problems with baby's health.
Not the expected baby (appearance, gender).
Separation of mother and baby.
'Difficult baby' (temperament, sleeping habits, feeding behavior).
Past history of sexual abuse or assault.
The exact causes of depression before and after
childbirth are not really known. Different risk factors play a role for each woman but it's the combination of life stresses
that can precipitate depression, together with physical, hormonal and social factors.
Depression following childbirth should not be
confused with the 'baby blues'. Up to 80% of women experience the 'blues' which tends to peak three-to-five days following
delivery and is caused mainly by hormonal changes at birth. Women often feel teary and a bit overwhelmed for a few days.
It is important to realize that depression is
a treatable condition, one from which you can recover given the appropriate treatment (e.g. medication and counseling), support
from family and friends and TIME.
There are many options available to women with
depression. We suggest in the first instance telling your Doctor, Midwife, Child Health Nurse, Obstetrician or other involved
health professional that you are experiencing some of these feelings. In some cases, being able to acknowledge and talk about
your feelings, gives those around you the chance to reassure and support you in finding the help you need.
Individual counseling - the counselor listens
to your problems in a non-judgmental way and provides support to help you work through them.
Physical treatment - therapy aims to provide support and teach
you strategies to deal with symptoms while addressing the underlying factors that may have increased your vulnerability to
Couple counseling - the couple relationship changes during
pregnancy and early parenting and any communication difficulties between partners may be highlighted. Counseling helps couples
work effectively together and assists their adjustment to the changes experienced before and after child-birth.
Support Groups - these include local self-help
groups conducted by people who have experienced the same sorts of problems, or support groups which provide an opportunity
to share experiences, obtain useful information and develop strategies to overcome difficulties.
Medication - medication, whilst effective, generally
shouldn't be used alone and should be accompanied by counseling, therapy or other support ser-vices. Medication may have annoying
side effects. You should seek advice from your Doctor regarding the use of medication and which antidepressants area safe
to take during pregnancy and/or breastfeeding.
Admission to hospital or mother-baby unit -
occasionally a woman may experience depression so severely that she may threaten to harm herself or her baby. In-patient admission
to a mother-baby unit or hospital is an important consideration.
If your State has a unit, they provide a safe place for a mother
and her baby to be monitored 24-hours a day.
Some centers also provide programs for women
and their partners to deal with couple issues, parenting skills and the mother-infant relationship.
Residential family care centers (Karitane and
Tresillian) may also be able to offer in-patient stay to resolve infant-related behavioral problems.
Useful coping Strategies for Pregnancy and Early Parenthood
There are many things that women and their partners can do
to make the experience of pregnancy and parenting easier. These are some suggestions:
Lots of things change during pregnancy and change can be stressful.
Be aware of this and talk about it.
Plan to have additional support in the first month or two by
asking your partner or a family member to stay at home with you.
Discuss with your partner the difference you think a baby will
make to your lives and the changes you'll need to make, e.g. negotiate ways to share household chores.
Try not to make major life changes (move house, change jobs)
in the first few months after you have your baby, or late in pregnancy.
Share your concerns with someone you trust.
Have regular health check-ups.
Trust your own judgment and remind yourself that things will
become more manageable as you adjust to your new role.
Keep a sense of humor!
Involve your partner in the care of your baby from the beginning.
Try to rest or sleep when your baby is sleeping.
Get to know your local Maternal and Child Health Nurse or mothers'
group to extend your support system.
Find someone reliable and trustworthy to baby-sit so you can
spend time alone with your partner.
Encourage your partner to seek professional help if needed
and even ac-company her.
Be aware of your own health and wellbeing and seek professional
help yourself if you feel depressed.
Provide reassurance and support to your partner.
Actively become involved in the care of your new baby.
Try to be understanding of your partner's needs and modify
your expectations of her.
Accept reasonable offers of help from others.
Plan some time together as a couple and do some activities
together that you enjoyed before you had your baby.
Be aware that women often have decreased sexual desire following
child-birth. Show affection and intimacy without the pressure for sex.
You can do something about it
Many women feel ashamed if they are not coping, believing this
should be the happiest time of their lives.
It is important to acknowledge to yourself when something is
wrong and realize that it's OK to seek help and tell people you are feeling depressed, anxious, angry or confused.
Depression is not always something that you
can get over by yourself and the most difficult part is to reach out and ask for help. This booklet should help you make those
first steps to recovery.
Remember, depression is a treatable condition and one from
which you can re-cover.