The Connection Between Sleep & Suicide

By KBJR News 1

August 4, 2010 Updated Aug 4, 2010 at 2:52 PM CDT

If your teenager wants to sleep until noon on the weekend, maybe that's not such a bad idea.

According to a new study from Columbia University, there is a connection between sleep and suicide.

The study found that kids with a bedtime of midnight or later were about 20 percent more likely to be depressed and think about suicide than kids with a bedtime of 10pm .

Barbara Reylets has the details.

Erin suffers from depression and bipolar disorder.

She has attempted suicide five times.

Everytime she was saved by an adult.

"There have been many days I could have died. I'm very lucky... very lucky right now."

For teenagers, what contributes to the risk of suicide is their age: adolescents have strong feelings and often they think and act impulsively.

It's the intensity of the emotion in the moment that's why drugs and alcohol are such an issue because they tend to decrease your ability to use your brain to think rationally about things and they tend to increase these intense passionate feelings and, like alcohol & drugs, what can also decrease clear and rational thinking is getting too little sleep night after night.

That in turn can lead to depression .

"So a child that's sad more days than not, that loses interest in their normal activities, that isolates themselves, whose outward behavior changes, who stops being able to function in school and with friends. Those are some pretty obvious signs."

He says if you suspect your teen may be suicidal– remove all potential hazards– especially– guns.

"This isn't a political comment, it's a very practical comment. If your child is depressed, is thinking about suicide, you have to remove the most dangerous means of doing that."

Erin is lucky to be alive...her advice to other teens,

"Hold on for a few days, a week, see if it gets any better, and just talk to somebody about it and don't keep it all locked up."

The Columbia study also found that kids who get less than five hours of sleep each night are 70 percent more likely to be depressed and 40 percent more likely to think about taking their own life.