A new study found the number of children and adolescents hospitalized for suicidal thoughts and attempts has more than doubled since 2008.
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The study focused on children ages 5-17 years, and tallied 115,856 cases at emergency departments at 31 children's hospitals. The rate of increase was highest among adolescent girls.
It's unclear exactly why more teens are contemplating suicide and self-harm. Suicide is typically the third leading cause of death for young Americans, but rose to the second leading cause of death in 2016. "The growing impact of mental health issues in pediatrics on hospitals and clinics can no longer be ignored, particularly at a time when mental health resources for children appear to be static, and woefully scarce across the U.S".
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.
Researchers from Vanderbilt University Medical Center found an alarming rise in hospital visits relating to suicidal thoughts and attempts among children.
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Moreover, they cited studies from that discussed "shortages of mental health clinicians" at pediatric hospitals, as well as studies that state pediatricians "report lack of adequate training and skills to manage mental health complaints".
The majority of the encounters were girls, and a little over half of the encounters occurred among teenagers ages 15 to 17. Children aged 12-14 represented 37 percent of the events, while about 13 percent accounted for children between 5 and 11.
The authors also observed seasonal variations in encounters for suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, with the lowest frequency during the summer and the highest in the spring and fall.
The researchers called for more studies of possible gender differences in youth mental health.
Gregory Plemmons, the lead author of the study and a researcher as well as paediatrician at the Nashvilles' Vanderbilt University said that the result of the study confirmed what all he had been seeing at the hospitals.