December 12, 2017

Catholic Medical Association Cites Alarming New Study Warning Suicide Risk Nearly Double Among Adolescent Girls Who Use Hormonal Contraceptives

PHILADELPHIA, PA – December 12, 2017 – The Catholic Medical Association (CMA) is joining with The American College of Pediatricians (ACPeds) highlighting a recent study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry documenting an increased risk factor of suicide – nearly doubled for suicide attempts and more than tripled for successful suicide – among adolescent girls who use hormonal contraceptives.

The study did not determine whether the girls in the study were sexually active. While sexually active girls are more likely than non-sexually active girls to be using the pill, they too may use the pill for non-contraceptive reasons such as painful menstrual periods. The ACPeds noted that the failure to document the girls’ sexual history is an important confounding factor because sexual activity during adolescence has been established as an independent risk factor for suicide among teen girls. Consequently, it is possible that the increased suicide rate is due solely to the adolescent sexual activity. Alternatively, it may be that sexual activity and hormonal contraception are independent, and potentially additive, risk factors for adolescent suicide.

“The study should serve as a wake-up call,” said CMA Immediate Past President Lester A. Ruppersberger, DO. “Hormonal contraceptives have many side effects young women and their parents need to be aware of the alarming increase in the suicide rate among female adolescents who use this form of birth control”.

It is also important to note that the only study found comparing hormonal versus non-hormonal contraceptives (IUDs and diaphragms) showed no difference in suicide rates.

ACPeds says while more study is needed to clarify whether the primary cause for the increased suicide among adolescent girls is the use of hormonal contraceptives, the sexual activity itself, or both, it is important to recognize that hormonal contraceptives are associated with a much higher suicide risk. This has public policy implications, since sexual activity is associated with an increased use of hormonal contraceptives, and sexual education programs promoting their use may be placing adolescents at greater risk.

The Catholic Medical Association is a national, physician-led community of over 2,000 healthcare professionals consisting of 99 local guilds. CMA mission is to inform, organize, and inspire its members, in steadfast fidelity to the teachings of the Catholic Church, to uphold the principles of the Catholic faith in the science and practice of medicine.

Susanne LaFrankie, MA
Director of Communications
Catholic Medical Association
Bala Cynwyd, PA 19004
W: 484-270-8002 x. 16

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