Increases were most prominent among girls and adolescents aged 12-17 years.
The annual percentage of hospital visits for suicide ideation and suicide attempts nearly doubled among USA children from 2008 to 2015, a retrospective review of hospital database records found.
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. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, said that the study is one of only a few to report higher rates of hospitalization for suicide during the academic school year.
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.
Data from the Pediatric Health Information System allowed the researchers to use billing codes to determine the differences between emergency department encounters, observation stays, and inpatient hospitalizations related to suicide. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville.
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).
Just over half of the encounters were children ages 15-17; another 37 percent were children ages 12-14; and 12.8 percent were children ages 5-11. They also identified the data month-by-month and found seasonal trends in the encounters. "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)".
Lead study author, Greg Plemmons, M.D., an associate professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Monroe Carrell Jr.
Rates were lowest in summer, a season which has historically seen the highest numbers in adults, suggesting that youth may face increased stress and mental health challenges when school is in session.