A North Texas teenager's suicide could have a ripple effect on your child's next pediatrician visit.
In 2003, Don Hooton lost his 17-year-old son, Taylor, to suicide related to the use of anabolic steroids.
Since then, he's made it his mission to raise awareness on adolescent stimulant and steroid abuse through his organization, the Taylor Hooton Foundation.
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Hooton and the American Academy of Pediatricians have collaborated with health simulation company, Kognito, to develop a free online role-play simulation designed to train health care providers to detect this type of substance abuse and motivate teens to quit.
The simulation is called "Artificial Perfection: Talking to Teens about Performance Enhancement."
Its makers say it enables health care providers to role-play conversations with three virtual patients, complete with unique facial expressions and body language.
It provides a choice of conversation paths and continually adjusts the options based on the user’s selection and patient’s response.
It takes just 35 minutes to complete and provides feedback at the end of each session to help users improve their diagnostic and motivational interviewing skills.
Hooton says before Taylor's death, they took him to four different doctors, but only the last health care professional determined Taylor's symptoms, such as rage, depression and severe acne, were related to steroid abuse.
Hooton says the psychologist told Taylor to quit steroids 'cold turkey.'
Seven weeks later, Taylor committed suicide by hanging himself inside his parents' home.
"There's no question in my mind that if a program like this existed, there would have been a much better chance that our family physician would have been able to know, to look for the problem," said Hooton.
"We've made a lot of progress in a lot of areas, talked to over a million kids, the rules in professional sports have changed, they're much tougher," Hooton said.
Testing regimens have improved, but one area that is still in significant need is in the medical community," said Hooton.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is promoting the use of the online training by its doctors.
The free training is also available to members of the public.