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

Leslie Hanson
May 17, 2018

Overall, there were about 116,000 encounters for suicide ideation and suicide attempts among children (1.21% of total encounters across 31 hospitals).

Increases were seen across all ages, but differed across certain groups.

Plemmons said the show presented a crossroads for many, but added that his study's data can not be ignored, particularly as suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents in the United States.

The percentage of patients seen at children's hospital for suicidal ideation (SI) and suicide attempts (SA) more than doubled between 2008 and 2015. While the study is limited by a lack of differentiation between encounters for SI and SA and lack of generalizability given completion at only free-standing children's hospitals, the study is notable for its large sample size and does contribute to the pediatric community's understanding of recent longitudinal, demographic, and seasonal trends in SI and SA encounters at children's hospitals. A little under 60% of these encounters resulted in hospitalization and of these, about 13% required intensive care. Two-thirds were girls.


NBC News noted half of the suicide-related hospital encounters involved teens aged 15 to 17; 37 percent were 12 to 14; nearly 13 percent were children aged 5 to 11 years. Twelve percent of the encounters occurred among children ages 5 to 11. They suggested "age- and sex-specific approaches to suicide screening and prevention". "We were also surprised to see the strong temporal association with the academic calendar (hospitalization rates were twice as high in October than July, for instance)". Young Americans aged 15 to 17 experienced the most significant increases, as did girls, and suicidal thoughts and attempts peaked in the spring and fall while declining in the summer.

"Youth may face increased stress and decreased mental health when school is in session", the authors wrote.

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". "With our findings, we underscore the need for future work to explore the relationship between school and suicidal ideation".

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

Discuss This Article

FOLLOW OUR NEWSPAPER