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

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

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death which preceded by accidents and homicides among adolescents in the United States. Plemmons added, "particularly in a time when mental health resources for children appear to be static, and woefully scarce across the U.S".

The CDC also reported that now only 20 percent of children with mental, emotional, or behavioral disorders receive specialized health care.

Plemmons and his colleagues said in the Pediatrics study that it is possible that physicians are paying more attention and sending kids to specialist hospitals because they don't feel equipped to deal with suicidal thinking.

Using data from the Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS), the researchers used billing codes to identify emergency department encounters, observation stays and inpatient hospitalizations tied to suicide ideation and attempts. Seasonal trends and gender variations were also found.

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.

A total of 0.66% of all encounters at the studied children's hospitals in 2008 were for SI and SA, a rate that more than doubled to 1.82% in 2015 with an average annual increase of 0.16 percentage points (95%CI: 0.15-0.17). Rates were higher during the school year than in the summer, and almost two-thirds of the visits involved girls, according to results published in the medical journal Pediatrics.

Lead study author, Greg Plemmons, M.D., an associate professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Monroe Carrell Jr.

Half of the encounters were children ages 15-17, 37 percent were children ages 12-14, and 12.8 percent were children ages 5-11.

Coverage of the study in The Wall Street Journal pulls from related studies that suggest the spike could be caused by a number of factors, including a decreased stigma around reporting mental health issues, causing more kids to seek treatment, or greater exposure to social media and smartphones.

The increase in suicidal thoughts and attempts among children and adolescents seems to point to a lack of appropriate care for children who are now dealing with mental health issues.

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