Researchers in China have confirmed a link between the abuse of prescription drugs and teenage suicide.
The team from Sun Yat-sen University tracked more than 3,000 teenagers across the space of a year.
The findings, published in JAMA Pediatrics, reveal that teens who used prescription drugs for non-medical reasons at the start of the study were almost three times as likely to report a suicide attempt a year later.
That link remains even after accounting for those teens who experienced depression at the start of the study.
Experts say the research should serve as a wake-up call to parents.
Dr Benjamin Shain from the University of Chicago told Reuters that teenage behaviour should be closely monitored.
“Growing up has always been difficult and life now is even more complicated,” he said. “Parents should take seriously severe or persistent distress and changes in behaviour, such as isolation or falling grades, and bring their teen to their primary care physician or a mental health professional with any signs.”
Parents are also advised to regularly discard any old narcotics or medications so they aren’t readily available to teenagers.