The study, "Hospitalization for Suicide Ideation or Attempt", looked at trends in emergency room and inpatient encounters for suicide ideation and attempts in children ages 5-17 years at US children's hospitals from 2008 to 2015.
A new study reveals a disturbing surge in the number of young children hospitalized over suicidal thoughts or attempts in the last decade. The rate of increase was highest among adolescent girls. They also identified the data month-by-month and found seasonal trends in the encounters.
Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center found an alarming rise in hospital visits relating to suicidal thoughts and attempts among children. The biggest increases were noted among teens 15 to 17 years old and girls. Children aged 12-14 represented 37 percent of the events, while about 13 percent accounted for children between 5 and 11.
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The study is published today in Pediatrics.
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.
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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"Although children's hospitals serve as regional referral centers of expertise for many pediatric physical health conditions, little is known about their role in providing [suicidal ideation] and [suicide attempts] care at the time when rates of youth suicides appear to be increasing", the authors wrote.
The study lead author Greg Plemmons, M.D., associate professor of clinical paediatrics at Vanderbilt University, said, "To our knowledge, this is one of only a few studies to report higher rates of hospitalization for suicide during the academic school year".
Overall, there were about 116,000 encounters for suicide ideation and suicide attempts among children (1.21% of total encounters across 31 hospitals). The number of incidents in October was double that as reported in July and the researchers say this could be because of the challenges and stresses of school.
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