“The numbers are stark,” said Daniel P. Dickstein, MD, FAAP, chief of the Nancy and Richard Simches Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at McLean Hospital.
In 2021, suicide was the second highest cause of death for young people 10-24 years of age, Dickstein said, citing data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. One in 10 teenagers made a suicide attempt. The risk is higher for girls than boys and higher for Black teenagers than white ones.
The numbers spike further when it comes to adolescents who are LGBTQ+ or non-gender conforming, with more than 50% of LGBTQ+ youth seriously considering suicide and more than 20% of LGBTQ+ teenagers making a suicide attempt.
Over the past 16 years, McLean Hospital’s 3East residential programs have helped more than 1,200 adolescents—almost all of whom have attempted suicide—learn to cope with their own experiences, emotions, behaviors, and with the world.
The programs use dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and other therapies to support teens struggling with thoughts of suicide, self-injury, eating disorders, relationship issues, trauma, as well as life experiences and conditions that impact their mental health.
Helping Teens Manage Their Mental Health
“Most of our residential patients have attempted suicide, many more than once. The common denominator for all our patients is serious difficulties regulating emotions, which leads them to engage in dangerous behaviors or otherwise profoundly affects their functioning,” said Judith Mintz, PhD, director of Clinical Services for the 3East Residential Program.
“These are adolescents whose emotions and behaviors impact their ability to have normal relationships, attend school, and lead healthy teen lives.”
Mintz started with the program soon after it began in 2007. What started as a girls-only residential program led to the development of other programs, including a boys’ residential program.
Some adolescents came into the 3East programs as gender nonconforming or gender fluid. McLean’s clinicians have always been comfortable working with adolescents and their families to find the best fit for any single person depending on their gender identity and specific needs.