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

18 May, 2018, 09:28 | Author: Denise Dawson
  • Why Suicide Attempts Are More in Adolescents

The researchers combed through data from the Pediatric Health Information System, looking for billing codes to identify emergency room visits, observation stays, and inpatient hospitalizations related to suicide attempts and thoughts.

That's according to a study published yesterday in "Pediatrics". Plemmons added, "particularly in a time when mental health resources for children appear to be static, and woefully scarce across the U.S".

The annual percentage of hospital visits for suicide ideation and suicide attempts nearly doubled among US children from 2008 to 2015, a retrospective review of hospital database records found. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, in a news release. A little under 60% of these encounters resulted in hospitalization and of these, about 13% required intensive care.

Half of the encounters were children ages 15-17, 37 percent were children ages 12-14, and 12.8 percent were children ages 5-11. Girls made up the majority of these encounters (64.4%), the authors said.

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While both boys and girls experienced significant increases in suicide ideation and suicide attempts, the increase was higher for girls compared with boys (0.14 percentage point increase versus 0.10 percentage points, respectively, P 0.001). The researchers also noted cases were highest in the spring and fall and lowest in the summer. They suggested "age- and sex-specific approaches to suicide screening and prevention". 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. More specifically, the month of October saw twice as many suicide-related hospitalizations as those in July. In addition to looking at overall suicide ideation and attempt rates in school-age children and adolescents, the researchers analyzed the data month-by-month and found seasonal trends in the encounters.

New research shows a growing number of young people are thinking about taking their own lives, and the study suggests school stress may play a role.

Plemmons and co-authors disclosed no relevant relationships with industry.

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