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

Posted May 18, 2018

The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, identifies which months corresponded with the highest number of hospitalizations. The study also underlines the importance of weather on the suicidal rates, as it added that Fall and Spring - the normal school time - have seen the increased number of cases.

Using data from the Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS), the researchers used billing codes to identify emergency department encounters, observation stays and inpatient hospitalizations tied to suicide ideation and attempts. The study showed that increases mainly were seen across all age groups, but they were highest among teens ages 15-17. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported previous year that a drop in adolescent suicide in the 1990s and early 2000s reversed course in 2008, though it's not yet reached peak levels seen in the 1980s. In 2008, 0.66% of hospital visits across 31 children's hospitals were related to suicide; by 2015, that had risen to 1.82%, a near tripling of the rate.

They examined data from the Pediatric Health Information System database, with clinical and billing data from 49 US children's hospitals.

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NBC News noted half of the suicide-related hospital encounters involved teens aged 15 to 17; 37 percent were 12 to 14; nearly 13 percent were children aged 5 to 11 years.

Plemmons and his colleagues said in the Pediatrics study that it is possible that physicians are paying more attention and sending kids to specialist hospitals because they don't feel equipped to deal with suicidal thinking. More than half of the cases occurred in children ages 15-17, with children ages 12-14 accounting for 37 percent, and 12.8 percent of cases involving kids ages 5-11.

Plemmons said, "The growing impact of mental health issues in paediatrics on hospitals and clinics can no longer be ignored". Girls made up almost two-thirds of the cases.

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"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.

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

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