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

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The researchers examined trends in emergency room and inpatient encounters for suicide attempts and thoughts in children ages 5 to 17 from 2008 through 2015.

A new study reveals a disturbing surge in the number of young children hospitalized over suicidal thoughts or attempts in the last decade. Seasonal variation was also seen consistently across the period, with October accounting for almost twice as many encounters as reported in July.

Note that the highest average increases were among adolescents (ages 15-17), and were higher for girls across age groups.

During the study period, researchers identified 115,856 encounters for suicide ideation and attempts from 31 children's hospitals. These work emphasize the growing need for mental health services and training for clinicians at children's hospitals, and suggests that further study of the contribution of school to SI and SA is needed.


Data from the Pediatric Health Information System allowed the researchers to use billing codes to determine the differences between emergency department encounters, observation stays, and inpatient hospitalizations related to suicide.

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. It also considered the number of attempted suicide, as reported in children's hospitals across the country. Plemmons added, "particularly in a time when mental health resources for children appear to be static, and woefully scarce across the U.S". Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt. There were significant increases in percentage of SI and SA encounters across all age groups, sexes, races and ethnicities, and household income quartiles except for the lowest quartile income subgroup. The researchers also found that around two-thirds of those encounters were girls.

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

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".

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