Jennifer Corbett Dooren in the Wall Street Journal subjects us to a particularly vapid article: Study Tracks Drug-Related Teen Suicides
Teenage girls are about three times as likely as boys to attempt suicide for drug-related reasons, according to an analysis of emergency-room visits. A government study also found boys are far more likely to attempt drug-related suicide in the month of December, while the suicide rate for girls stays fairly steady throughout the year.
The study, conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, found an average of 178,423 ER visits a year from 2004 to 2008 for drug-related suicide attempts involving people age 12 or older. The study looked at the percentage and timing of such attempts among adolescents ages 12 to 17, adults ages 18 to 49 and adults age 50 and older. The study also tracked the number of visits each month to see if there was seasonal variation in the data.
Other research has suggested depression, which is a risk factor for suicide attempts, can worsen in the fall or around major holidays. But the study found that for the population as a whole, there was little seasonal variation in drug-related suicide attempts.
It continues on with such fact-filled, but content empty nonsense for a couple more paragraphs and ends:
The study didn’t look at the reasons behind suicide attempts and only included drug-related suicide attempts that resulted in an ER visit.
Nobody reading that article can possibly come away knowing what drug-related teen suicides are. She even contradicts herself in her opening and closing sentences. “three times as likely as boys to attempt suicide for drug-related reasons… study didn’t look at the reasons”
The best you can do as a reader is to go to the SAMHSA site and find the study yourself (because of course, not having the integrity of a blogger, she doesn’t link to it). I’m guessing this is it (or at least one relevant report from the same study type). There you learn:
DAWN data can be used to examine ED visits for drug-related suicide attempts. Although DAWN includes only suicide attempts that involve drugs, these attempts are not limited to drug overdoses. If there is drug involvement in a suicide attempt by other means (e.g., cut wrists while drinking alcohol), the case is included as drug related. Excluded are suicide attempts with no drug involvement and suicide-related behaviors other than actual attempts (e.g., suicidal ideation or suicidal thoughts).
In other words, not extraordinarily useful information. But Dooren needed to make dull data seem “newsworthy,” without bothering to actually, you know, learn what it meant.
Aren’t there any standards for reporters at the Journal?