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

Suicide Pediatrics Suicidal Children and adolescents

Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.

Increases were seen across all ages, but differed across certain groups. "The growing impact of mental health issues in pediatrics on hospitals and clinics can longer be ignored, particularly in a time when mental health resources for children appear to be static, and woefully scarce across the U.S".

The number of kids hospitalized for thinking about or attempting suicide doubled in less than a decade, according to a study published Wednesday in Pediatrics.

Kids suicide-related hospital visits nearly tripled from 2008 to 2015, but there is no clear reason why, according to new study.

The majority of the encounters were girls, and a little over half of the encounters occurred among teenagers ages 15 to 17.

"We began to notice in our own children's hospital about ten years ago we were beginning to see an increase in the number of children admitted for suicide ideation or attempt and were surprised to find the increase is nationwide".

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

When divided into age groups, the 15-17 age group showed the largest spike (roughly 50 percent of encounters) in the study period, followed by the 12-14 group (37 percent) and finally, the 5-11 group (13 percent).

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 outcomes suggest that the rate of suicidal attempts increased in the fall and spring, and lowest in the summer. Seasonal variation was also seen consistently across the period, with October accounting for almost twice as many encounters as reported in July.

"Youth may face increased stress and decreased mental health when school is in session", the authors wrote.

Characterizing this as "the most striking variation" of the study, they cited only one other study that found "a correlation between the risk of [suicide ideation and suicide attempts] among children and adolescents during the academic school year". Also, the database is limited to freestanding children's hospitals, and that there was no assessment of biological or psychosocial factors, due to the "ecological design" of the study.

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