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Thursday, September 21, 2023


UH professor examines suicidal teens

Teenage suicide attempts caused by stress are the focus of UH psychology assistant professor Jeremy Pettit’s research. In collaboration with the University of Texas Harris County Psychiatric Center, Pettit said he hopes to shed light on the causes behind suicide attempts by teenagers, which might help counselors provide more treatment options for patients.

"In terms of clinical interventions, there is currently a one-approach method that is applied to all adolescents who have attempted suicide, no matter if it’s once or several times," Pettit said in a release.

Pettit was awarded a $6,000 grant by the University to pursue his research for two years.

Teenagers ages 13 to 17 are interviewed by a group of UH psychology students to investigate if failed suicide attempts have similar behavioral predictors.

"If we learn that the predictors are dissimilar in different suicide cases, we can tailor interventions specifically to address both the repeat and first- time attempters," Pettit said in a release.

Pettit’s research will compare the behaviors of sensitization and stress generation.

Sensitization focuses on teens that feel overwhelmed and are more susceptible to suicidal attempts when minor hindrances occur in their lives.

Stressful situations, such as negative relationships and environments, are the focus of stress generation.

"In distinguishing between these two models, we will look at the total level of stress prior to a first attempt at suicide versus second and third attempts," Pettit said in a release.

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