According to the data, diagnoses of either suicidal ideation or suicidal attempt increased from 580,000 in 2007 to 1.12 million in 2015. As a percentage of all emergency room visits in that time period for children, visits for suicidal thoughts and attempts rose from 2.17% to 3.5%. The average age of a child at the time of diagnosis was 13.
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Researchers also pointed out that 43.1% of either diagnoses were for children between 5-11 years. There was no statistically significant change in total ED visits during the nine-year period.
In an interview with USA Today, Burstein noted that EDs just aren't equipped to deal with this, but the majority of patients tracked in the NHAMC survey did not go to specialized pediatric centers.
"Findings suggest a critical need to augment community mental health resources, ED physician preparedness, and post–emergency department risk reduction initiatives to decrease the burden of suicide among children," Burstein and his colleagues wrote in the study, published Monday in JAMA Pediatrics.
Read the full study at jamanetwork.com.
Psychiatrists have pointed to multiple potential factors behind the increase in depression and suicidal behaviors among youth, from rising academic pressures, the influence of social media, lack of access to appropriate health care or cyberbullying.
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The National Institute of Mental Health identifies suicide as a major public health concern in which trained mental health professionals can play a pivotal role in helping someone understand their feelings and improve wellness and resiliency.
Both psychotherapy, including cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication can be used to treat any underlying mental health problems. Psychotherapy in particular, according to NAMI, can help a person with suicidal thoughts recognize unhealthy patterns of thinking and behavior, validate troubling feelings, and learn coping skills.
If you or anyone you know is contemplating suicide, call or text the 24-hour hotline at 800-273-8255. For more information, go to www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.