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

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Representational Image

Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents in the United States, preceded only by accidents and homicides, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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

The CDC also reported that now only 20 percent of children with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders receive specialized health care.

The researchers analyzed 115,856 encounters for suicide ideation and attempt in emergency departments at 31 children's hospitals during the study period. "Some people have theorized that social media is playing a role", There are also differences based on the gender of the kids. The researchers recognized, studies and analysed the number of children who had visited hospital in response to suicidal thoughts.

The study is published today in Pediatrics. 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).

Earlier this year, the American Academy of Pediatrics said doctors should routinely screen children over the age of 12 for depression, and the best advice for parents is simply to talk with kids. 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. The researchers also noted cases were highest in the spring and fall and lowest in the summer.

Lead author Gregory Plemmons, a pediatrician and researcher at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., says the study results confirmed what he'd been seeing at the hospital.

The increase in suicidal thoughts and attempts among children and adolescents seems to point to a lack of appropriate care for children who are now dealing with mental health issues. 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.

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