Suicidal Thoughts, Attempts On The Rise Among Young People: 'It's A Critical Public-Health Crisis Right Now'

18 May, 2018, 09:28 | Author: Veronica Peterson
  • Suicide Pediatrics Suicidal Children and adolescents

The study showed the proportion of young people treated at 31 US children's hospitals for suicidal thoughts or attempts more than doubled between 2008 and 2015, from 0.66% of all visits to 1.82% of all visits.

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For the study, a database of visits at 49 children's hospitals for kids aged 5 to 17 were analyzed.

It's unclear exactly why more teens are contemplating suicide and self-harm.

Plemmons said the show presented a crossroads for many, but added that his study's data can not be ignored, particularly as suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents in the United States.

Suicide Pediatrics Suicidal Children and adolescents
Suicides among American kids are not new according to the experts. Image credit Getty

The study shows that the children ages 5-17 years attempt suicide due to suicidal thoughts at USA children's hospitals. Plemmons added, "particularly in a time when mental health resources for children appear to be static, and woefully scarce across the U.S". Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), that child and adolescent mental health care remains "inadequate", and that research has indicated that emergency departments and acute care hospitals should offer a "safety net" for youth that experience suicidal ideation or suicide attempts.

In this retrospective study, researchers used clinical and billing data from 31 children's hospitals across the United States to further characterize the number of hospital encounters for SI and SA. Examining encounters by age groups, adolescents (ages 15-17) had the greatest average annual increase (0.27 percentage points, 95% CI 0.23-0.30), followed by adolescents ages 12-14 (0.25 percentage points, 95% CI 0.21-0.27, P 0.001 for both). While the study is limited by a lack of differentiation between encounters for SI and SA and lack of generalizability given completion at only free-standing children's hospitals, the study is notable for its large sample size and does contribute to the pediatric community's understanding of recent longitudinal, demographic, and seasonal trends in SI and SA encounters at children's hospitals.

Just over half of the encounters were children ages 15-17; another 37 percent were children ages 12-14, and 12.8 percent were children ages 5-11. Rates were higher during the school year than in the summer, and almost two-thirds of the visits involved girls, according to results published in the medical journal Pediatrics.

"To our knowledge, this is one of only a few studies to report higher rates of hospitalization for suicide during the academic school year", says lead author Greg Plemmons, of Monroe Carell Jr.

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