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Jim Liebelt Christian Blog and Commentary

Jim Liebelt

Senior Editor of Publications for HomeWord

*The following is excerpted from an online article from

Self-harm among adolescents is growing, according to a study published in the July issue of Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Researchers gathered information using the National Trauma Data Bank, looking at patients ages 10 to 18 from 2009 to 2012. They examined 286,678 adolescent trauma patients, 3,664 of whom sustained a self-inflicted injury. The goal was to examine trends and identify factors associated with increased risk.

Results showed Emergency Room visits for self-inflicted injuries (SII) increased from 1.1% in 2009 to 1.6% in 2012. Self-inflicted firearm visits decreased from 27.3% in 2009 to 21.9% in 2012. The most common mechanism in males was firearm (34.4%) and in females, cut/pierce at 48%.

The study showed that only 4.9% of adolescents with an SII were diagnosed with a mental disorder. About half (47.2%) had depressive disorders. Cutting or piercing was the most common mechanism of injuries followed by firearm. Poisoning was the least common.

Females are more likely to visit the emergency room for SII injuries compared with males. Males have been shown to have a greater risk of dying from injuries likely because their method is more lethal, such as firearms, according to the study.

The odds of SII were higher for females, older adolescents, adolescents with comorbid conditions and Asian adolescents, and lower in African-American adolescents.

Adolescents with an SII had higher odds of death than those with other injuries. "Adolescent suicide is a major public health problem and one of the leading causes of death in this age group," researchers wrote in the study. "Self-harm behavior is rare under the age of 12 but increases rapidly through adolescence, especially among females."

There is a high risk for subsequent successful suicide attempts among adolescents who self-harm, therefore, the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention in the U.S. identifies them as a high-risk group, researchers wrote.

Researchers noted in their study that other data on self-harm showed the average number of emergency room visits for attempted suicide and SII more than doubled between 1993 and 2008. Visits were most common among adolescents ages 15 to 19, they wrote. Mortality rates increased by 15% from 2000 to 2009, and suicide has surpassed motor vehicle traffic crashes as the leading cause of injury mortality in the U.S.


*The following is excerpted from an online article from the Huffington Post.

Most members of Generation Z can't imagine life without Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. Nearly one in four teens reports being online "almost constantly," with much of that online time dominated by social media.

But the effect of social networking on teens' mental health has been largely unclear, since so little research has been conducted on the matter. A new study warns, however, that frequent social media use may indeed take a toll on a young person's psychological well-being.

The research comes from Ottawa Public Health, the city of Ottawa's agency for health information, programs and services. The study finds that teens who use social media sites for two hours or more per day are significantly more likely to suffer from poor mental health, psychological distress and suicidal thoughts.

To conduct the study, the researchers analyzed data from 750 students in grades seven through 12, collected for the 2013 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey. The students were asked to answer questions about their social media habits, mental health and psychological well-being, and mental health support. Of those students, 25 percent said that they spent at least two hours a day on social networking sites like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.

The researchers found that these heavy social media users were more likely to report having poor mental health, psychological distress (symptoms of anxiety and depression), suicidal thoughts and unmet mental health needs.

While the study doesn't prove causality, it's likely that the direction of influence runs both ways. Teens who are struggling with their mental health may be more likely to use social media frequently, while excessive use of social media use may over time contribute to poor mental health.

"The relationship between the use of social networking sites and mental health problems is complex," said Dr. Hugues Sampasa-Kanyinga, the study's lead author. "Simple use of social networking sites cannot fully explain by itself the occurrence of mental health problems."

The findings were published online on July 13 in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.

Source: Huffington Post

*The following is excerpted from an online article from U.S. News & World Report.

Music training improves teens' hearing and language skills, a new study says.

The findings suggest that music instruction can help teens do better in school, according to Northwestern University researchers.

"While music programs are often the first to be cut when the school budget is tight, these results highlight music's place in the high school curriculum," the study's senior author, Nina Kraus, said in a university news release. Kraus is director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern's School of Communication.

"Although learning to play music does not teach skills that seem directly relevant to most careers, the results suggest that music may engender what educators refer to as 'learning to learn,' " she added.

The study included 40 freshmen at high schools in low-income Chicago neighborhoods who were followed until their senior year. Nearly half participated in band classes that involved two to three hours a week of instrumental group music instruction at school.

The remainder of the students enrolled in junior Reserve Officers' Training Corps, which emphasized physical fitness.

Over the study's three years, the music students showed faster maturation in the brain's response to sound, as well as heightened brain sensitivity to sound details.

All of the participants showed improvements in language skills linked to sound structure awareness, but the improvement was greater among those in the music group than those in the ROTC group.

The findings, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, suggest that high school music training might boost brain development and improve language skills, according to the study authors.

Source: U.S. News & World Report