Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Arrive Alive in 2014

As we enter a New Year, we extend our appreciation to all of our clients, family and friends.  Ordinarily we post information that pertains to our services but as we wind down 2013, we feel it's important to share this information with everyone:

(Article courtesy of The National Safety Council)
The National Safety Council today released its estimates of traffic fatalities for the Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods. The Christmas holiday period – 6:00 p.m. December 24 through 11:59 December 25 – is estimated to result in 105 traffic fatalities and another 11,200 medically consulted injuries. The New Year’s holiday period – 6:00 p.m. December 31 through 11:59 January 1 – is estimated to result in 156 traffic fatalities and 16,700 medically consulted injuries. 
A new “Alcohol-impaired motor vehicle deaths during holiday periods” infographic from Safety+Health magazine indicates that the holiday period with the highest average percentage of alcohol-impaired traffic deaths is New Year’s at 42 percent. NSC offers the following tips:  
  • Even if you’re “just a little buzzed,” don’t drive
  • Designate a “non-drinking” driver or take a cab
  • Don’t feel embarrassed to refuse a ride from an impaired driver – even if it’s a friend or spouse
“Holidays are meant to be a time for celebration,” said John Ulczycki, vice president of strategic initiatives at the National Safety Council. “The Council provides these estimates to help remind all drivers to practice defensive driving habits and make smart decisions on the roads to avoid unnecessary tragedy.”
Studies have shown that safety belts are 45 percent effective in preventing fatalities. It is estimated that 38 lives may be saved this Christmas holiday period and 57 lives may be saved during New Year’s because people choose to wear safety belts. NSC recommends: 
  • Wear your safety belt every trip, every time – even when traveling a short distance
  • Model this safe behavior, especially in front of children
  • Ensure everyone is safely buckled up before you drive
  • Place children in age-appropriate safety seats
We want to wish you all a Safe & Happy Holiday and look forward to a very prosperous 2014.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Do you have a CLEAN New Year’s Resolution?

It’s that time of year when we all vow to clean up the messes from our previous years and sometimes the years have become decades of junk, debris and un-cleanliness.  Recently, the term “Hoarding” has become a commonly known term in the age of TV Reality Shows.  The truth is, these situations have been an ongoing problem in thousands of homes across America. 

As each New Year approaches it brings a certain awareness that the upcoming year will be better than previous years only to soon realize that the tasks of cleaning and sorting through the piles of trash and unwanted items is overwhelming and quickly settle back into old habits. 

Bio Scene Clean Up is experienced in the clean up and removal of debris from hoarding, abandoned properties and even death and trauma scenes.  If you make the decision that it’s time to clean it’s important that you hire a professional company that can help with proper cleaning of these scenes. Months and years of trash, junk and rubble can often times be a breeding ground for infectious conditions, bacteria and other harmful substances.  It’s imperative that you not attempt to clean these scenes without taking the proper precautionary measures to protect yourself.  Trash and debris removal is only one small part of the cleaning process. Organizing, cleaning and boxing of salvaged items, proper disinfecting and returning the scene to a totally safe environment are other parts of what we do. We are not a cleaning service and do not clean commercial properties.  We specialize in the safe cleaning and restoration of scenes that frequently contain bio-hazardous materials and other harmful substances. 

Bio Scene Clean Up is a fully equipped team of compassionate professionals experienced in helping people restore scenes to healthy conditions.  We maintain certifications, utilize professional equipment and chemicals and have contacts that assist in safely disposing of waste from these scenes.  

The primary reason for these scenes going unattended for such long periods is simple embarrassment.  The task of doing this alone is too great for one person and people are afraid to ask for help to remedy the problem.  Our technicians are trained to assist with the emotional support necessary to get the job completed. We work directly with our clients step by step to ensure that the problems are addressed and solutions are offered to avoid re-occurrence. 

Contact us today for a confidential assessment and action plan to help you take control of your overwhelming tasks.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Happy Holidays from Bio Scene Clean Up

Instead of posting a normal informational article this week, I wanted to take an opportunity to to personally thank everyone for their business, support and well wishes throughout 2013.Often in the rush of business we fail to take every opportunity to say "Thank You" to those that support our businesses. We value each and every one of you.

We are excited about many great things for 2014 and look forward to our continued relationships with our clients and viewers. We welcome interaction and the opportunity to communicate with everyone.

 If you have questions, comments or suggestions, please don't hesitate to submit a communication request or drop a comment.

Bio Scene Clean Up wishes everyone a Safe and Happy Holiday Season and wish each of you our blessing for a prosperous New Year in 2014. 

Marc Onesta - Owner 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Why employ professional clean up for unattended death scenes?

Any time someone dies it can be a difficult and emotional time. It’s even harder if the body was unattended at the time of death as it only adds complication and trauma to the situation.  If you happen to be the unfortunate one to discover the death, it’s important to know that you need a professional bio-hazard cleaning service.

Unattended death can be a very hazardous situation.  Most often times the scene contains urine, feces, blood and other bodily fluids and all are in a state of decomposition.  This poses an extreme risk of exposure to infectious diseases and individuals who are not properly trained can be exposed to infectious diseases.  Decomposing body fluids can contain germs, active disease and bacteria for a  very long time.  Even if an untrained cleaner wasn’t exposed to these elements, the EPA and OSHA have strict regulations on the cleaning and disposal of these types of bio-hazardous materials.  

It is also common for the scene of an unattended death to have extreme odors that will remain even after removing the body.  These odors cannot be extinguished by ordinary household cleaners. These household cleaners will mask the odor temporarily only for them to return a few hours later. BioScene Clean Up utilizes equipment to permanently remove these odors from effected materials. The chemicals we use are designed to neutralize odors at the molecular level so they won’t return.  We are also dedicated to ensuring the safety of anyone associated with this type of scene.  We cannot stress how important it is to hire a professional bio-hazard clean up company to perform this work.  

 BioScene Clean Up is fully equipped to handle unattended death clean up scenes. We maintain the equipment and advanced training to properly handle the scene of an unattended death.  Our cleaning technicians are professional and have the utmost compassion when dealing with the details of these tasks. We understand what a difficult time it is and work efficiently to clean and restore a home to its original state.  BioScene Clean Up also offers additional services that can assist you in cleaning debris, clutter and other items from these scenes.  Please see our services and certifications section for more details.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Top 3 questions to Tampa's Biohazard Clean Up Company

The most important thing in handling the crime scene clean up is that affected things should be cleaned in a way by which life will be danger free in future. It is imperative that one employs the help of the experienced bio hazard technicians who are certified and well trained to remove the fluid materials of body and blood or other bio-hazard materials.  Often there are various items such as walls, carpet, furniture, wallpaper, flooring, etc that will need to be disposed of in the red bio-hazard bags.  Disposal can usually be taken to a state-regulated and federal- regulated site. Laws do not permit the use of dumpster to dispose the items. According to the laws of federal and state, a bio-hazard clean up will need to store the records of the place where disposal is taken place and include what was disposed. It is suggested that these records be stored for 30 years. It’s also important that permits and certification information be retained for the same amount of time should they ever need to be reviewed. 

Why is trauma and crime scene clean up so dangerous? The cleanup process of a scene may be easy and simple. But, clean up technicians have to be trained in how to handle materials to avoid contact with deadly diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, and other diseases that can be occurred by affection of bio-hazards. Frequently sharp items that can puncture your skin are found to be present during clean up. It’s also possible that a cleaner’s mouth and eyes can be affected accidently during the removal of biohazard items. 

Why should someone call a bio-hazard clean up company?  When it comes to cleaning and removal from a bio-hazard trauma scene, family members, friends or people associated want to clean the scene themselves. Seldom do they realize that the tasks are physically and emotionally overwhelming. BioScene Clean Up is trained in the removal of bio-hazard items such as body fluids, decomposing bodies, human tissues, hypodermic needles, blood, etc.  Our technicians are fully trained and certified in the removal of these materials and have been specifically trained to restore a scene to a better than original condition. Utilizing a trained professional company like BioScene Clean Up enables you to avoid the emotional distress of the work. Anyone attempting to clean a biohazard scene may also run the risk of certain liabilities should someone cleaning become exposed to harmful items and substances. BioScene Clean Up also provides disinfecting services to help restore scenes.

Who pays for bio-hazard and crime scene clean up? Depending on the circumstances and where the incident occurs, ordinarily the insurance company pays for the clean up. Every insurance carrier is different and certain restrictions may apply.  Anyone having to hire a professional clean up company should contact the insurance company to review these limitations; if any.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Tampa's compassionate suicide clean up services

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention statistics show that there are over 34,000 suicides in the United States every year. It is the third leading cause of death among young adults aged 15 to 28, and the fourth leading cause of death for those aged 18 to 65.

Those who have not experienced a suicide in the family, the needless loss of a sibling or child, cannot imagine the grief and pain the family suffers. Trying to clean such a tragic scene can be a hardship far beyond measure. While no one likes to think of their own home as a biohazard, in extreme circumstances it may be emotionally traumatizing or physically unwise to tackle a cleaning job by yourself.

After an accident, suicide or death occurs and the dead or injured have been taken away, it’s often companies like BioScene Clean Up that are brought in to clean up the scene. Frequently we are called to the home of a person who died alone and whose body wasn't found for weeks. Bioscene Clean Up provides clean up services dealing with blood, human decomposition, excrement and any other type of biological hazard.

Photo courtesy of AP
Our main objective is to remove all contaminated material from a home, business or automobile and restore it to a biologically safe state. Bioscene staff members arrive at a scene, assess the extent of the cleaning and then compose a plan of action and implement it. From start to finish, we are on site to complete the tasks, right down to ensuring removal of materials from the biohazard disposal unit.

With corporate offices St Petersburg, Florida we are able to serve the entire state with professional & compassionate suicide clean up services. Contact our staff today for a confidential assessment of how we can restore a scene for you. The grief is hard enough, with our professional services we are able to eliminate the additional pain for individuals associated with these types of traumatic events.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Who handles Trauma Scene Clean Up in Tampa, FL?

The police, fire and other rescue departments play a crucial part in handling the many tasks after a death or suicide. These crucial professionals however, do not clean up the trauma scene. Trauma-scene clean up is a niche market within the cleaning industry and many clean up steps following a trauma must adhere to strict regulations for handling decontamination and materials.

Special equipment, chemicals and materials are necessary when performing this type of clean up as it involves dangerous and most often contaminated materials that cannot be cleaned up using conventional house cleaning methods. Depending on the location of the trauma scene, different precautionary practices become applicable to ensure safety.

Some different types of Trauma Scene Clean Up can be:
Death Clean Up (Resulting from death, accidents or a trauma such as murder)
Suicide Clean Up
Biohazard Clean Up (Clean up of blood and other hazardous wastes, meth labs and other chemically contaminated scenes)

BioScene Clean Up offers these cleaning services and more. With offices located in Tampa, FL and St. Petersburg, FL they are able to offer 24 hour and emergency services. Since families of crime and trauma victims typically do not leave the home after this occurs, our job is to remove any sign of what happened and any biohazardous materials that may be present from the incident. These biohazardous items are materials such as blood or tissues at a crime scene, bodily fluid removal and waste associated with the clean up.

It is definitely not advised for family members or friends of family to attempt cleaning these scenes. Often times with trauma and death scenes specifically, there are specific protocols that must be practiced in order to ensure the safety of yourself and others. Special permits are required for handling these materials and substances and intense training should be completed by the professional who performs the clean up. BioScene Clean Up is certified to performs these and many other types of clean up. For more information about what we do preview our SERVICES. We realize in the midst of these incidents that it’s a very difficult time for families and people associated with incidents. We are professions, compassionate and willing to help you restore these scenes to before incident conditions. CONTACT US for more information on how we can be of service to you.

Monday, October 7, 2013

7 Tips your Neighbor Might be Dead, Written by a Death Scene Cleaner

As the title states this one-sided non-scientific post by me, a death scene cleaner on tips your neighbor might be dead is intended to be both educational and informative. As a cleaner of death scenes you see and hear many things, and sometimes what you see and hear are shocking like; finding out how long the tenant or homeowner has been deceased, decomposing in their home for days, weeks and yes - even months. At times neighbors of the deceased, as well as family members or friends will often repeat this same phrase “I had no idea he/she been deceased for so long”, and the signs are so obvious that people don’t recognize them. With all the crime scene, forensic shows on TV where victims are found dead in apartments or homes due to crime or death scenes you would think neighbors would be more keen to identify signs of trouble, well you would be wrong as the tips I will demonstrate are so obvious yet so oblivious to most.

Tip 1. You haven’t seen your neighbor in a while
They may just be avoiding you, a recluse or introvert, or they could be dead if you have not seen your neighbor in a while. Sounds pretty obvious, right?

Tip 2. No response from phone calls, emails, etc
This tip could be used by anyone, but for the sake of this post we will use – neighbors. If your neighbor has not answered the phone, or returned any of your messages, texts, emails, etc that you have left for them, there is a good chance they either do not want to talk to you or are dead.

Tip 3. Numerous newspapers left in the yard or at the door step of residence
Yes, I know how could anyone not notice a stack of Sunday papers left on the doormat? If you ever notice a couple newspapers left out in the front yard of your neighbor’s place and they are not out of town, you might want to check on them, especially if they are elderly or have medical conditions. A bunch of daily newspapers or worse Sunday papers are a tip your neighbor might be dead.

Tip 4
. Advertisements/solicitations attached to front door
These are the pizza brochures, pamphlets walk-around solicitors place in your door or around the door knob. If there’s a lot of them on or around the main entrance to the property there is a good chance the occupant might be dead if they are not out of town.

Tip 5. Flies in windows of home
We are now stepping it up a notch where the tips your neighbor might be dead may only be visible to close proximity neighbors such at a condo or apartment complex where other residents walk by neighboring residences down a hall or pass on foot in front of other homes. We are not speaking of a fly or two, more like seeing 10-50 flies in the windows. Some flies may mean the trash needs to be emptied, lots of flies in a home may mean your neighbor is dead.

Tip 6. An awful smell emanating from the residence
This is when it gets nasty – if there is an odor so horrible it makes you gag when you pass by or go near the door, there is a good chance the occupant of that home may be dead. What you smell is the odor of a decomposing body and the smells are so noticeable, almost like the smell of a road-kill animal on the side of the road. I have been to apartments where the tenant was not found for weeks and the odor could be smelled from outside the apartment building, but neighbors living across the hall of their decomposing neighbor never recognized that there could be an issue with it.

Tip 7. You see police cars and a van that says coroner on it, in front of your neighbor’s home
Yes, I have been on death scenes where a nosey neighbor comes over to talk to me and asks “Do you know if so and so is ok?” how would you respond?

The above tips are just a few simple, yet extremely important key points of identifying potential trouble at a neighbor’s home. Put down your smart phone and remove your ear plugs and pay attention to your surroundings, you may one day help someone that needs it.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Why Hire a Crime Scene Cleaner? Reasons why you don't cleanup a crime scene

Well it seems so obvious that people-victims of crime would never cleanup a crime scene themselves, many do so anyways. We are not talking about a crime scene as being one like - spray painted graffiti on a wall or some teenage brats throwing eggs at your home, what we are speaking of are real crime scenes like; murder suicides, knife stabbings, beatings, assaults of horrific suffering. Scenes like the ones mentioned are when you need to hire a crime scene cleaner. It may seem so blatantly normal for a victim if they're still alive or their families to not even ponder the thought of cleaning up a crime scene that contains blood, fluids, tissues, with visual images of a violent struggle for survival - you would be wrong. Wrong in many ways that families of crime victims take the initiative of cleaning up a scene whether they want to or not, as being just another dirty area, like their kid's bedroom. We are not even talking about the dangers involved just the thought of cleaning up a crime struggle where someone you know or related to was brutally attacked or killed would make most people cringe and cower themselves away from the scene so as not to be involved. Before you think to volunteer or be the tough guy or gal and suck it up and go clean up the blood, think about your mental state of what your doing. You may be physically capable of mopping, scrubbing since you clean your home or car so well, that this blood mess aint no big deal, well you're wrong! Whether the victim lived or died, if you know the person, you will always remember that person by the scene you "cleaned up". Do you really want to remember your Aunt, Dad, Sister, Cousin or Jack the Neighbor as that blood stained couch or those bloody hand prints on the wall as he was attacked and killed in a home invasion? Even if the person lived through a crime-attack you as a relative or friend should not cleanup the scene, psychologically you memory of that person would be scorned for life.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The four types of people most likely to murder their families - According to the BBC

Self-righteous: Killer seeks to locate blame for his crimes upon the mother who he holds responsible for the breakdown of the family. For these men, their breadwinner status is central to their idea of the ideal family. (case study: Brian Philcox) Anomic: The family has become firmly linked to the economy in the mind of the killer. The father sees his family as the result of his economic success, allowing him to display his achievements. However, if the father becomes an economic failure, he sees the family as no longer serving this function. (case study: Chris Foster) Disappointed: This killer believes his family has let him down or has acted in ways to undermine or destroy his vision of ideal family life. An example may be disappointment that children are not following the traditional religious or cultural customs of the father. (case study: Mohammed Riaz) Paranoid: Those who perceive an external threat to the family. This is often social services or the legal system, which the father fears will side against him and take away the children. Here, the murder is motivated by a twisted desire to protect the family. (case study: Graham Anderson)

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Cat poop parasite is dangerously widespread

Be careful next time you change the kitty litter -- cat poop can carry a nefarious parasite that may be much more widespread than thought, researchers say. Cats in the United States release about 2.6 billion pounds (1.2 million metric tons) of feces into the environment every year. Cat dung carries the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, a single-celled organism that creates infectious agents called oocysts. These oocysts can infect pregnant women, causing congenital problems in the baby such as deafness, seizures, eye damage and mental retardation. The parasite also infects people with compromised immune systems, such as those with HIV/AIDS. After reviewing past studies on the parasite, a team of researchers believes the Toxoplasma parasite may be a significant public health problem, infecting people who are otherwise healthy. Other studies have even linked the parasite to schizophrenia, depression, suicidal behavior and lower school achievement in children. [The 10 Most Diabolical and Disgusting Parasites] In the last five years, researchers have studied how long the Toxoplasmaoocysts remain viable. "What happens to these oocysts in children's play areas?" said study researcher E. Fuller Torrey, a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center in Chevy Chase, Md. "I put together the data we have and found it disturbing." Troubling trend Torrey and his colleagues reviewed studies of the parasite. The number of cats in the United States is growing pet cats increased from 55 million to 80 million from 1989 to 2006, and the number of feral cats is estimated at between 25 million and 60 million. Studies show that approximately 1 percent of cats shed the infectious oocysts at any given time. These oocysts can survive for at least 18 months, and only a single one is needed to cause an infection, according to past research. Other animals, like sheep and cattle, can also acquire the parasite by ingesting the infected cat feces. Humans can acquire it by eating raw or undercooked animals that are infected. In countries like France of Ethiopia, where raw food is common, the incidence of infections is much higher, Torrey told LiveScience. People also become infected through contaminated water supplies. It has long been known that the parasite can survive in cat litter, where the oocysts become aerosolized after 24 to 48 hours, Torrey said. Similarly, children could acquire the infection from playing in sandboxes, and gardeners could acquire it from vegetable patches, because cats often relieve themselves in these areas. "It's a remarkably complex parasite. It's much more complicated than a virus, and has many more genes," Torrey said. The microbe is famously known to infect rats and change their behavior, causing them to be less afraid of the smell of cat urine. This makes it easier for the rats to be eaten by cats, returning the parasite to its host. Parasite prevention Treatments do exist, but none are very effective, Torrey said. Most people don't have long-term effects, but it's not clear why some do. Genetic predisposition or age at the time of infection could play a role, Torrey said. More research is needed to understand the risks posed by the Toxoplasma parasite. In the meantime, Torrey advocated controlling cat populations, especially feral ones. Children's sandboxes should be covered. Gardeners should wear gloves and wash their vegetables. And cat owners should dispose of cat litter properly in the trash, not down a toilet (and pregnant women shouldn't change it at all).

Monday, July 8, 2013

On Being Bold in Suicide Prevention: Innovative Approaches in Innovative Places

By Sally Spencer-Thomas, Co-Lead of the Action Alliance Workplace Task Force and CEO & Founder of the Carson J Spencer Foundation I had been in the field of mental health 16 years before my brother Carson took his life in 2004, and I would Sally Spencer-Thomas, CEO & Founder, Carson J Spencer Foundation say that since then I have learned much about the “gaps” that need to be filled in the field of suicide prevention. In the aftermath of his death, our family and his friends came together in our grief, as many people do, with a strong sense to “do something” and formed the Carson J Spencer Foundation (CJSF). From CJSF’s inception, what quickly became obvious was the huge “gap” between the target population of most suicide prevention efforts and population that most represented by those who were dying. We were shocked to learn that most people who took their lives were just like Carson: white, working-aged men. We made the commitment to be bold and try to fill this “gap” with innovative approaches in innovative places. Innovation is critical in the field of suicidology because it helps us engage untapped resources, explore new partnerships, and ultimately expand our capacity. Without innovation, we will just keep repackaging the same methods and will be limited in our ability to create the significant change we all envision. Innovation begins with an idea to take a radically different approach – especially if it’s difficult. In hindsight, we can usually see the benefits of innovation, but at first they are sometimes considered radical ideas. Where would we be if that first crisis call center had never emerged or if the Air Force had decided, like so many others had before, that there was nothing that could be done to prevent suicides? Often, because innovation challenges convention of how things get done, initial backlash and doubt ensue. Inevitably, trial and error cycle as the innovative idea evolves. Sustained change comes as the context of discovery moves into the context of justification, and rigorous evaluation helps us better understand the cause and effect cycle of change. Since my brother Carson was a gifted entrepreneur and not afraid of risk-taking, the founders of CJSF not only dedicated our mission to preventing what happened to him from happening to others, but also to celebrating his gifts as a dynamic and bold visionary. When taking an inventory of existing suicide prevention efforts, we noted that very few people were addressing suicide prevention in the workplace, and this gap became ours to fill. In 2007 CJSF launched the Working Minds program (www.WorkingMinds.org) and in 2009 we published the Working Minds Toolkit, which was accepted to the National Best Practice Registry in 2010. The goal of these efforts is to build capacity in workplaces, so that they are better able to implement comprehensive and sustained suicide prevention programs. Today, with the help of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention’s Workplace Task Force, workplace suicide prevention efforts are better able to leverage the influence of leaders from across the country and create a “tipping point” of change. We are bringing together executives and industry leaders to be spokespeople for the cause; we are pulling together resources to outline a blueprint for change; and we are partnering with the Public Education and Awareness Task Force to “Change the Conversation.” The Workplace Task Force, in partnership with CJSF and others, has launched three new innovative resources for workplaces: A Manager’s Guide to Suicide Postvention in the Workplace: 10 Action Steps for Dealing with the Aftermath of Suicide A Comprehensive Blueprint for Workplace Suicide Prevention VIDEO: Firefighters Coping with the Aftermath of Suicide In addition, we need innovation to reach those at highest risk for suicide – men of working age with multiple risk factors, who are also least likely to seek care. For years, the same message – “if you are depressed, seek help” – was repackaged with little success in reaching this demographic. What the effort needed was a brand that was compelling to high-risk men. In 2007, the Carson J Spencer Foundation, Cactus Marketing and Colorado’s Office of Suicide Prevention – a public-private-nonprofit partnership – came together to find a new way to reach high-risk men by using “manspeak” and humor. On July 9, 2012, after four years of research, development, and planning, the partnership launched the one-of-a-kind Man Therapy™ campaign (www.ManTherapy.org) with an article in the New York Times. While the unconventional approach raised a few eyebrows, our initial results look promising so far – the campaign seems to be reaching the target audience and having the intended effect. In just nine short months, the website has experienced over 200,000 unique visitors averaging over 6 minutes per visit. More than 60,000 people have completed the 18-point head inspection (a self-screening tool) and 15,000-plus have accessed information on crisis services. The qualitative feedback we have received from men and therapists alike is that men’s thinking about mental health shifts during their interaction with www.ManTherapy.org and they are more likely to do something different about their problems as a result. While innovation is particularly unnerving in a profession where lives are at stake, we must “be visible, be vocal, be visionary. There is no shame in stepping forward, but there is great risk in holding back and just hoping for the best.” (Higher Education Center)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The Contagiousness of Suicide in the Classroom

One of the largest studies of its kind supports the theory that kids are more likely to consider suicide when those around them have committed the act. (PHOTO: SHAWN HYNE/SHUTTERSTOCK) July 2, 2013 • By Kathryn Doyle • No Comments Teens who have a classmate die of suicide are more likely to consider taking, or attempt to take, their own lives, according to a new study. The idea that suicide might be “contagious” has been around for centuries, senior author Dr. Ian Colman, who studies mental health at the University of Ottawa, told Reuters Health. Past studies supported the idea, but none had looked at such a large body of students, he said. “There were a lot of surprising things about this study, we were surprised that the effect lasted so long and just how strong it was,” Colman said. “Sometimes the closest friends are not the ones that are most likely to harm themselves because they’re so up close and aware of the painful fallout with the family of the deceased.” Colman and his colleagues used data from a long-running national survey of more than 8,000 Canadian kids aged 12 to 17 years old. Students were asked about suicides of schoolmates, friends, and their own thoughts of suicide, and researchers checked in with the kids two years later. By the age of 17, one in four kids had a schoolmate who had committed suicide, and one in five knew the deceased personally, according to results published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. For the 12- and 13-year-old adolescents exposed to a schoolmate’s suicide, 15 percent reported thinking seriously about killing themselves and seven percent actually made an attempt, compared to three percent and two percent of unexposed kids, respectively. The effect persisted even if the schoolmate had died more than a year earlier. Results were similar for 14- and 15-year-olds and 16- and 17-year-olds, but older kids who had not been exposed to suicide were more likely to have thought of or attempted it. “For 12- and 13-year-olds, they were approximately five times more likely to report thinking about suicide,” Colman said. “That’s a huge effect.” They found no difference between kids who personally knew the deceased and those who didn’t. In the U.S., about 4,600 people aged 10 to 25 years old commit suicide, according to the Centers for Disease Control. NEW POLICIES? Based on the results, school “post-vention” programs should encompass the whole school, not just those closest to the deceased, and should perhaps revisit parts of the intervention months and years down the line, Colman said. It may make sense that kids who knew the deceased and those who didn’t seemed to have no difference in risk, Frank Zenere, a school psychologist at the Miami-Dade County public school system, told Reuters Health. “Sometimes the closest friends are not the ones that are most likely to harm themselves because they’re so up close and aware of the painful fallout with the family of the deceased, which can actually be a protective factor,” Zenere said. The younger kids tend to be most vulnerable and impressionable, he said. “There’s a lot more drama in middle school grade levels, they tend to have much more of an emotional outpouring, early teens versus late teens,” he said. Though the current study indicates the effect persists for at least two years, Zenere believes it may go on even longer. Some school districts may rewrite policies and procedures in light of these results, but those at most, including his own, are probably already designed to take relevant factors into account. “It’s really important for parents to talk to their kids about mental health and to help them get professional help if needed,” Colman said.