Parents have no clue about teens’ suicidal thoughts

Three in four parents are unaware that their teenage children have had recurrent suicidal thoughts, says a study conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. According to the study published in Pediatrics (January), adolescents usually deny thoughts of suicide when parents ask them about it.

Researchers interviewed 5,137 adolescents, aged 11-17 years, and one parent or step-parent. The study highlights that most teens surveyed didn’t report suicidal inclinations, but when they did, half the parents were unaware that their children had thought of killing themselves and 76 percent didn’t know that teens regularly muse about death.
“Parental unawareness and adolescent denial of suicidal thoughts may deny at-risk teens from receiving the mental health services they need. Teens need to know they can depend on their parents in times of need,” says study lead author Jason Jones, a research scientist at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Adolescent drinking ups risk of alcohol abuse

Drinking during adolescence can significantly increase the risk of alcohol addiction and abuse later in life, reveals a study published in the journal Substance Use & Misuse (February). The study conducted by researchers from the US-based Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), who interviewed 405 adolescent (15-18 years) drinkers, found that one-third of them had experienced their first intoxication by age 15.

Adolescent drinkers reported drinking most frequently at home, followed by outdoor settings such as restaurants, bars and nightclubs. The researchers found that first intoxication is strongly linked with drinking in outdoor settings, rather than at home. Dr. Sharon Lipperman-Kreda, co-author and senior research scientist, PIRE, says the outcomes of the study clearly suggest “the importance of considering the contribution of contexts to alcohol early initiation and problems to inform the development of preventive interventions specific to contexts”.

Early onset of drinking among adolescents has been identified as a big risk for later heavy drinking and alcohol dependence among young adults.

More siblings, more bullying

A child with more than one sibling is more likely to be a victim of sibling bullying than a child with only one sibling, reveals a study conducted by the University of Warwick, UK. The study, which analysed data of 6,838 British children born in 1991/1992, found that first-born children and older brothers are more likely to be perpetrators. “Sibling bullying is the most frequent form of family violence. There is increasing evidence that it can have long-term consequences, like increased loneliness, delinquency and mental health problems,” says Dieter Wolke, lead author and professor of psychology at Warwick University.

According to the study published in the journal Developmental Psychology (February), 28 percent of children studied were involved in sibling bullying with the majority of them found to be bully victims, i.e they bullied and were bullied. The researchers concluded that bullying was more likely to occur in families with three or more children and the eldest child or older brothers were more often the bullies, and female and younger children were more often targeted.

Household chores can cause indoor pollution

Cleaning, cooking and other routine household chores contribute significantly to increasing indoor air pollution levels, says a research study conducted by the University of Colorado Boulder, USA. The study reveals that daily household tasks such as boiling water or cooking a meal can leave a home as polluted as a major city.

Marina Vance, assistant professor of mechanical engineering at University of Colorado Boulder, used advanced sensors and cameras to monitor the indoor air quality of a 1,200 sq ft home. According to her, airborne chemicals that originate inside a house such as volatile organic compounds from products such as shampoo, perfume and cleaning solutions eventually escape and contribute to ozone and fine particle formation, which causes greater atmospheric air pollution than cars and trucks.

“Homes have never been considered an important source of outdoor air pollution and the moment is right to start exploring that. We wanted to know: how do basic activities like cooking and cleaning change the chemistry of a house? Even the simple act of making toast raised particle levels far higher than expected,” says Vance.

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