An article on adolescent suicide in the medical journal Pediatrics reflects a trend in modern pediatric medicine by omitting mention of sexual activity and elective abortion as “significant risk factors” for teen suicide, according the American College of Pediatricians, a socially conservative medical association.
“There has been an unremitting trend across all of medicine, including pediatrics, in concert with the advance of the sexual revolution, particularly since the legalization of abortion in 1973,” the College said in written comments to Baptist Press (BP).
“Virtually all medical organizations are in lockstep with political correctness on the matters of contraception and abortion for youth without parental consent, comprehensive sex education that minimizes abstinence, and the entire [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] movement despite the incontrovertible evidence that the [LGBT] lifestyle is dangerous and unhealthful, as well as preventable and changeable. It is for this reason – organized medicine’s increasing kowtowing to political correctness – that the College was founded in 2002,” the College stated.
Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, cites teen suicide risk factors such as family history of suicide, transgender identification and a history of physical or sexual abuse. Sexual activity and elective abortion, however, are not mentioned as risk factors in the report.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is the primary professional organization for pediatricians in the U.S., with 66,000 members. The American College of Pediatricians has 500 members.
In critiquing the Pediatrics article in a July 7 press release, the American College of Pediatricians cited research to demonstrate the detrimental effects of sexual activity and abortion on teens’ mental health.
Teen girls with sexual experience are three times and boys eight times more likely to have attempted suicide than are virgin teens, according to the College. A Minnesota study found that in the six months following an abortion, high school girls are 10 times more likely to commit suicide. Girls with any history of abortion are about six times more likely to attempt suicide than their peers.
Psychologist and neuroscientist Matt Stanford told BP a fully-orbed approach to teen suicide prevention must take sexual activity and abortion into account.
“Previous studies have demonstrated that they are risk factors. They do not seem to be greater risk factors than other factors but certainly are important to take into account when assessing risk for suicide,” Stanford said in written comments.
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among persons between 15 and 34. Deaths from suicide have increased 24 percent from 1999-2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Among factors that decrease a teen’s likelihood of committing suicide are involvement with parents, schools and religion, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Stanford, who served on Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee President Frank S. Page’s Mental Health Advisory Council, noted the importance of church involvement for teens as a form of suicide prevention.
“Research has shown that involvement in a faith community is a protective factor against suicide,” Stanford said. “I think additionally faith communities can strive to minimize [other] risk factors…. Minimizing divorce, speaking out against domestic violence, assisting the homeless [and] helping families get their children to mental health treatment when needed are all things faith communities can do.
“In addition,” Stanford noted, “I believe that one of the problems is that we are not teaching our children to be resilient in difficult situations. Faith communities can provide parenting classes and strong youth programs that build healthy families and develop resilient children and adolescents.”
Education on how to recognize risk factors and warning signs of teen suicide is an important step in decreasing the upward trend, Stanford said, noting youth pastors in particular should receive suicide-prevention training.
“Obviously pediatricians are a major group that is being targeted for education on suicide. I would suggest that youth and college pastors should also be targeted,” Stanford said.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Daniel Woodman, who will be a junior journalism major at the University of Missouri, is a summer intern with Baptist Press, the Southern Baptist Convention’s news service.)