The study showed the proportion of young people treated at 31 US children's hospitals for suicidal thoughts or attempts more than doubled between 2008 and 2015, from 0.66% of all visits to 1.82% of all visits.
They cited research, including a report from the U.S.
About five years ago, pediatricians at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville found that more and more of their inpatient beds at the children's hospital were occupied by children and adolescents with mental health issues, especially those who had come in because of suicide attempts, or suicidal thoughts.
In 2008, 0.66% of all US children's hospital visits were due to either suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts, also known as suicide ideation.
Gathering data from the Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS), scientists used billing codes and observed emergency department encounters. Two-thirds were girls.
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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 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.
There was a significant average annual increase in these types of encounters (average annual increase 0.16 percentage points, 95% CI 0.15-0.17, P 0.001). Increases were most prominent among girls and adolescents aged 12-17 years. Peaks for encounters among the groups were highest in the fall and spring, and lowest in the summer. Specifically, there were almost twice as many attempts reported in October as in July (9.9% of all encounters vs 5.9%, respectively).
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".
Study limitations included potential misclassification of non-suicidal self-harm encounters as suicide ideation or suicide attempts.
"We began to notice in our own children's hospital about ten years ago we were beginning to see an increase in the number of children admitted for suicide ideation or attempt and were surprised to find the increase is nationwide". It suggests that the youth may face increased stress and mental health challenges when school is in session. 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.