Corrections & clarifications: A previous version of the story linked teens’ rise in suicidal thoughts to a Netflix program. Banner Health officials later said that they could not find a direct correlation.

Banner Health is urging parents to be on alert after seeing a spike in teenage patients who reported having suicidal thoughts, the health provider says.  

The increase in adolescent suicide risk was observed at three Banner Health facilities in the Valley, the medical group said Thursday.

Jeff Nelson, director of public relations for Banner Heath, said its Thunderbird Medical Center in Glendale had a record high of 25 teens treated in its emergency room Tuesday. Of those, about 17 or 18 stated they had thoughts of suicide during an assessment in the emergency department, he said. 

Other locations with a higher number of teens being treated were Banner Desert Medical Center in Mesa and the Banner Behavioral Health Hospital in Scottsdale.

Typically, the Thunderbird location treats about eight adolescent patients demonstrating the symptoms at a given time, Nelson said.

Banner Health representatives on Thursday cited the viewing of the Netflix show “13 Reasons Why” as one reason given by the teens for their suicidal thoughts.  

On Friday, Nelson said, “We cannot definitively link the viewing of the Netflix series ’13 Reasons Why’ to these patient visits.” 

According to the American Association of Suicidology’s website, 1,276 Arizonans killed themselves in 2015. The state is ranked 13th in the country for suicide deaths per capita, the organization reported.

Warning signs of teen suicide

  • Lack of concentration
  • Appetite changes
  • Sleep changes, sleeping too little or too much 
  • Lack of energy
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Loss of interest in pleasurable activities 
  • Self-harming behavior
  • Talking about suicide
  • Irritability 
  • A decrease in self-esteem and confidence
  • Withdrawal from school, family and friends

Source: Dr. Goshawn Chawla/DSM–V


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