More Children Ending Up In Hospitals For Suicidal Tendencies

More Children Ending Up In Hospitals For Suicidal Tendencies

According to a new Vanderbilt study, the number of youngsters hospitalized for suicidal thoughts or attempts has doubled since 2008.

They cited research, including a report from the U.S.

A new study finding a rise in suicidal thoughts and attempts among young people adds to the research pointing to a decline in mental health among US children and adolescents.

In this retrospective study, researchers used clinical and billing data from 31 children's hospitals across the United States to further characterize the number of hospital encounters for SI and SA. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville.

Half of the encounters involved teens aged 15 to 17; 37 percent were 12 to 14; and nearly 13 percent were children aged 5 to 11 years. Increases were most prominent among girls and adolescents aged 12-17 years. Summer months only accounted for 18.5% (95%CI: 5.6-6.1) of total annual SI and SA encounters, whereas spring and fall months accounted for 28.3% and 28.1% of encounters, respectively. In addition to looking at overall suicide ideation and attempt rates in school-age children and adolescents, the researchers analyzed the data month-by-month and found seasonal trends in the encounters.

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). They suggested "age- and sex-specific approaches to suicide screening and prevention". Seasonal variation was also seen consistently across the period, with October accounting for almost twice as many encounters as reported in July.

Study limitations included potential misclassification of non-suicidal self-harm encounters as suicide ideation or suicide attempts.

This observation has led them to believe that there may be a link between suicidal tendencies among the children and the increased stress and mental health challenges they experience when they are in school.

Study author Dr. Gregory Plemmons said the findings "are not surprising", and that "colleges have also reported a dramatic increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression among students and in use of counseling services". Also, the database is limited to freestanding children's hospitals, and that there was no assessment of biological or psychosocial factors, due to the "ecological design" of the study.

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