Teen Suicide and Sleep Problems Linked

Teenagers who thought about suicide or attempted suicide were found to have more sleep problems. A recent study reported that sixty percent of teens 15 to 17 who engaged in suicidal behavior reported sleep problems at ages 12 to 14. Forty-seven percent of teens who had suicidal thoughts but did not engage in suicidal behavior reported sleep problems. Control teens had a 26% rate of sleep problems.

Teenage suicide is a tragic situation which seems to happen all too often. There are a number of great resources and places for support in preventing this from happening. However, sleep problems are almost never mentioned as a possible aggravator of suicidal ideation. This study didn’t get into the type of sleep problems, but insomnia and lack of sleep are two of the most common problems that teens have. Delayed sleep phase syndrome is another common phenomenon seen mostly in teens.

What I’ve alluded to in the past is that teens, due to their rapidly changing upper airway anatomy, will be more susceptible to breathing problems at night. As the voice box matures and drops lower in the neck, more space is created which allow the tongue to fall back easier when in deep sleep (due to muscle relaxation). This relative change in the anatomy may be one possible reason why depression begins to peak in the late teens to early adult years.

What do you think about my theory? Please enter your thoughts and comments in the box below.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

3 thoughts on “Teen Suicide and Sleep Problems Linked

  1. My theory is that teen depression and obesity, in the USA at least, are significantly related to the school curriculum. The curriculum, because of the standards movement and standardized testing, has itself become irrelevant and has overwhelmed many kids and made school boring and depressing.

  2. Hi Dr, Park,

    Besides all mentioned, other internal impacts are hormone changes, allergy, food intake and many more.


  3. Dr. Park

    My name is Shawn, I’m 13 years old, and im having really bad family problems…
    My brother(Luke) is 20 years old, and started doing drugs when he was about 16. Ever since then, my family has had big fights, Lies, and Depression. after my brothers friend had died from doing drugs, about at the age of 17 or 18, Luke had started heroine. He got badly addicted. My family had sent him to rehabs everywhere, but he tends to walk out the front doors when he feels like it.
    My mom had sent him to a Christian rehab as her last decision, hopeing it would help him. After about a month, he left. My whole family thought he was healed because his voice was normal, his eyes were normal, and everything that changes when he is high, was back to normal and looking the same.
    Luke went to go spend time with my sister(Diana,23) at her apartment with her son, Nyko (2). Diana asked Luke to walk over to the grocery store next door to her apartment complex to get her a milk. He got her money and left. He got her milk, and also something else. she said he had to use the bathroom when he got home. My sister cooked a snack for him and the baby, and sat on the couch waiting for him, but then, she realized, he was in the bathroom for a while. She walked over to the door, and Knocked on it asking him if he was ok. There was no reply from him. The door was locked so she kept banging on the door calling his name. After about 5 seconds, she busted the door down. She found him laying there on the bathroom floor, with a needle in his arm, tin foil on his lap, and armband around his arm. She screamed and pulled him out of the bathroom quickly. She felt no pulse. She called 911 for the ambulance to come, and started performing CPR on him. When the ambulance got there, they announced he was dead. They pulled out the electric charges, and shocked him. They received a pulse. He was charged with drug perophonilia and drug handling charges when he got out of the hospital. He got sent to the county jail for 31 days.
    When he got out of jail, We thought that was what really healed him. He was sober for a while, until his eyes started getting shady again, and he started yelling more. This was about a month or two ago. My mom would search his room occasionally for peraphonilia. We found 3 syringes hidden around his room. He claimed they were old, but before Luke had gotten out of jail, my mom had cleaned his room, spotless. Fighting has become almost a daily routine in my house, all involving my brother.
    Tonight is why I’ve decided to email someone I could trust; even though i have been talking to one of my friends named Lama, who i can trust the most. Well tonight, my brother had quietly entered my room. I could tell he wanted a favor from me. He walked up to me and asked if he could hide his girlfriend in my room for a few minutes because my dad had told them she wasn’t supposed to sleepover. I replied,”whatever”. My dad had come up the stairs and asked where his girlfriend was, Luke said she left. My dad and Luke had a small arguement about how he told Luke she can’t stay over; then came into my room wanting to tell me to goto bed. Luke’s girlfriend and hid in my closet, so my dad noticed the closet door was slightly cracked open, and found her hiding. My dad yelled at Luke about her being there, and a huge arguement broke out. Then my mom woke-up and asked what happened. They both shared there side of the story interupting eachother, and my mom told my brother that his girlfriend could not sleepover. My whole family wound up screaming at eachother, and i told Luke not to make such a big deal over not letting his girlfriend sleepover, when she can come-over tomorow. Luke came into my room becuase everyone heard me, and started telling me that its none of my buisness. I told him that I was just making a suggestion and like always, he interrupted me. He started saying, “I’m 20, your 13” trying to prove himself right. that is the when he started getting in my face t try and let him talk. I started interupting him saying, “exactly, your 20, your in a 13 year old’s face”. He gripped my arms tightly because i thought he was going to hurt me so i started squirming and trying to swing my arms to try and get loose. He got angry at something i had said and pushed me off of my chair which led to me being almost tripped over the char. He started to grab me again and started throwing punches. I hit him near the ear. He told me not to hit his older brother and stuff and i started to yell,” Then don’t touch me!” My mom heard that and she gets really mad when she hears ANYBODY touches me. She stormed into the room Really mad at Luke. they started fighting. that went on for about 10 minutes, then Luke went in his room and closed the door. My mom was outside of the door trying to get in, but Luke had blocked off the door with his weights. Luke started threatening to kill himself, and he told my mom if she tries to fight with him one more time, he’s going to kill himself. After that she tried talking to him, and he had taken that offensively.
    About 10 minutes later, i heard yelling again;where my dad was. I walked down stairs and sat down at the counter. Luke was the only person yelling, and my parents were talking with a normal voice, but trying to prove a point to him. I told him to realize nobody else was yelling except him, and he kept telling me to stay out of it. I got angry that time because that is all he had been telling me, and i was on my parents side. I told him he’s angry over something so little again, how his girlfriend can just come over tomorow. He started yelling at me. I was really mad at him at that point, and wanted to hold it in. I noticed he kept having mood swings from, “suicidal and crying” to “angry and tough”. he got him self water from yelling so much. After argueing for about 15 minutes, my parents started going upstairs to goto sleep. Then i tried talking to Luke nicely, What i said in an inside voice was how he was argueing over having his girlfriend sleep over and how she could come over tomorow once again. He told me thats not what it’s about, its about how my parents dont trust him with anything and dont care about him…. which i can relate to the trust because who could trust someone who lied to your face for about 3 years? and why i kept saying its over his girlfriend sleeping over was because that is how the argueing started. But when i tried explaining, Luke got in my face, again, and told me not to get involved, and a bunch of bull crap to try and get me to go upstairs. I told him to not get in my face, and the same thing happened as in what did upstairs. My parents came down and screaming broke out again. After Luke left outside, my mom, dad, and I all sat in there talking about how hes mentally ill. I started walking toward the stairs and heard the door open and close, knowing it was Luke. I yelled, “quit whining and end it!” i could hear him coming faster toward me saying, “what was that shawn?! What was that?!!” i thought he was going to hit me or something so i put my hands up to swing again. I remembered him saying earlier that he would never hurt his little brother, so i knew he probably wasn’t going to hit me. When he got about 3 feet away from me, he threw his full cup of water all over me… I hit him across the face, and he started holding me, telling me to calm down. My family argued like the usual for another five minutes, then he left.
    Thats the most i can tell you right now, and i hope you can help me because i reallly dont know what to do. I want to give my mom suggestions too. So please help me.