ACE Test Aids in Depression, Suicide Awareness in Troubled Youth

Depression and suicide in the United States among troubled youth have been on the rise prior to 2020. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) are proving to be key factors that influence these events in teens and adolescence.

ACE Test Factors – A Breakdown

ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) are those that occurred before a child’s eighteen birthday. An ACE test focuses on crucial events that with frequency over time can impact a child’s behavior and future well-being.

The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Test can be used to measure the severity of such experiences in a person’s life. Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) include:

1. Child abuse (emotional, physical and/or sexual abuse)

2. Household disruptors like – familial violence, drug, and alcohol  abuse, mental illness, divorce, and/or, imprisonment of a family member.

3. Emotional and or, physical neglect.

These ACE experiences are not a comprehensive list. It does not factor in children raised amid natural disasters (like a pandemic), in war zones, living in a home with food uncertainties, and or, bullied for an extended period of time – digitally or in person.

Teen Depression & Suicide Stats+ ACE – related Factors

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, of youth ages 12 to 17 years of age, 3.2 million said they had experienced at least one major depressive episode in the past year (2017). This accounted for 13.3 million youth ages 12 to 17 in the United States. Suicide became the second-most frequent cause of death following accidents, rising from 6.8 deaths to 10.6 deaths for every 100,000 teens and young adults between 2010 and 2017.

Seven out of ten U.S. teens said anxiety and depression is a major problem among individuals their age in the community where they live, according to a fall 2018 Pew Research Center survey of teenagers ages 13 to 17.

The following are a few different studies linking depression and suicide to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE):

 A study of 39,929 children ages 8 to 17, showed that 9% of youth had current anxiety while 4% had current depression due to adverse childhood experiences. It was concluded that all ACE measures were associated with notably higher odds of both anxiety and depression. Children exposed to 4 or more ACEs had a greater likelihood of depression than those with exposure to less than four adverse childhood experiences.

Research involving 9,241 youth indicated that an accumulation of adverse childhood experienced increased the probability of suicide ideation and attempts. Compared with those with no occurrences of ACEs, the odds of seriously considering suicide or attempting suicide in adulthood more than tripled among those with three or more ACEs.

A study of Chinese youth in 2020 concluded higher occurrences of depression symptoms among students who experienced physical abuse, household mental illness. After factoring for all potential independent variables, models indicated that higher odds of depressive symptoms were discovered among students who experienced physical abuse, household domestic violence, or mental illness. Findings indicated that higher odds of suicide intentions were found among students who experienced physical abuse, or household mental illness. Higher odds of suicide plans were observed among students who experienced sexual abuse, physical abuse, or household mental illness.

Signs of Depression/Suicidal Tendencies in Youth

In addition to high ACE Test scores, it’s beneficial to consider these behaviors and traits common to troubled youth who are depressed and or, considering suicide:

  • Giving away their belongings, particularly those things that they cherish.
  • Regular complaints of boredom.
  • A decrease in energy.
  • Showing an inability to focus.
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness.
  • Frequently closed off/unsocial.
  • Alcohol or drug misuse.
  • Major changes in sleeping habits.
  • Demonstrating regular indifference, anger, and or, resentment.
  • Drastic decline in academic performance.
  • Extreme changes in personal appearance.

September 5th – 11th is Suicide Prevention Week. October is Depression Awareness Month.  Share this information with a loved one or someone you know who may need support with their adolescent or teenager.

Deschutes Wilderness Therapy provides custom therapeutic methods to suit troubled teens’ individual and specific needs.  Learn more about our caring, clinical therapists, and licensed teen / young adult programs. If you have questions about how we treat depression and or, suicidal tendencies, you can submit them here or call – 855-689-8326.