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

Children's hospital visits for suicide ideation and attempts are increasing

Children's hospital visits for suicide ideation and attempts are increasing

"Encounters for [suicidal ideas and suicide attempts] at US children's hospitals increased steadily from 2008 to 2015 and accounted for an increasing percentage of all hospital encounters", wrote the study authors.

Seasonal variation affected suicide rates, as well, with numbers peaking 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.

Study Rundown: Suicide is a leading cause of death among children and adolescents, and previous studies have noted recent increases in suicide, depression, and other mental health diagnoses.

During the study period, researchers identified 115,856 encounters for suicide ideation and attempts in emergency departments at 31 children's hospitals.

The New York Times reported the proportion of emergency room and hospital encounters for these suicide-related diagnoses nearly tripled, from 0.66 percent in 2008 to 1.82 percent in 2015.

Moreover, they cited studies from that discussed "shortages of mental health clinicians" at pediatric hospitals, as well as studies that state pediatricians "report lack of adequate training and skills to manage mental health complaints". 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).

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. More specifically, the month of October saw twice as many suicide-related hospitalizations as those in July.

The researchers looked overall suicide ideation and attempt rates in school-age children and adolescents then they evaluated the data month-by-month and found seasonal trends in the encounters.

Study author, Gregory Plemmons, MD, speaks to 2 Minute Medicine: Associate professor in clinical pediatrics at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine.

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