Health Care

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

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

An increasing number of children and adolescents in the United States are struggling with suicidal thoughts as well as attempts. Rates were higher during the school year than in the summer, and almost two-thirds of the visits involved girls, according to results published in the medical journal Pediatrics.

They examined data from the Pediatric Health Information System database, with clinical and billing data from 49 USA children's hospitals. "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 study from Vanderbilt University Medical Center, and released in the publication Pediatrics, included a retrospective analysis of administrative billing data from the Pediatric Health Information System database that covered information from 49 children's hospitals for children ages 5 to 17, NBC News reported.

Overall, there were about 116,000 encounters for suicide ideation and suicide attempts among children (1.21% of total encounters across 31 hospitals).

More than half were hospitalized, and more than 13 percent needed intensive care.

The researchers also analyzed the data on a month-by-month basis in order to establish seasonal trends in hospital visits. While increases were seen across all age groups, they were highest among teens ages 15-17, followed by ages 12-14.

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). "We were also surprised to see the strong temporal association with the academic calendar (hospitalization rates were twice as high in October than July, for instance)".

"To our knowledge, this is one of only a few studies to report higher rates of hospitalization for suicide during the academic school year", said Greg Plemmons, the study's lead author.

The outcomes suggest that the rate of suicidal attempts increased in the fall and spring, and lowest in the summer. "With our findings, we underscore the need for future work to explore the relationship between school and suicidal ideation".

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



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