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Survey identifies teens who are depressed

©Associated Press
February 22, 2003

WASHINGTON -- Researchers are offering a computerized screening tool to high schools for free in hopes of identifying teenagers who are suffering from depression.

Columbia University's "TeenScreen" survey asks teenagers questions designed to find those at risk for suicide or those with other mental health problems. It is being used in 27 states.

"In an hour or less, it is now possible to find young people with serious mental health problems, many who are suffering silently and don't know that what they are experiencing isn't normal," said Dr. David Shaffer, chief of adolescent psychiatry at Columbia, who led the research to develop the program.

The questionnaire is meant to identify teenagers who need a detailed assessment. Studies have found that the questionnaire accurately identifies most teenagers who were judged suicidal through a full psychiatric diagnosis.

Columbia estimates that more than 800,000 U.S. teenagers suffer from depression each year, with more than 500,000 attempting suicide.

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