*The following is excerpted from an online article posted on HealthDay.
In a troubling sign that anxiety and depression are taking hold of America’s youth, new research shows a doubling since 2008 in the number of kids and teens who’ve been hospitalized for attempted suicide or suicidal thoughts.
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.”
But is the risk for teen suicide actually growing, or are more vulnerable teens going to hospitals than in the past? Plemmons said it’s hard to tell.
“We still know from other studies out there that less than half of young people with mental disorders seek treatment, and only a minority of teens with depression actually seek care,” he said. “In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued guidelines this past February to encourage primary care doctors to begin depression screening.”
Plemmons is an associate professor of pediatrics with the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt University, in Nashville.
Suicide is now the third leading cause of death among American adolescents, the study authors noted.
To get a handle on the issue, the researchers used federal pediatric hospital data.
The findings showed that in 2008 through 2015, nearly 116,000 children aged 5 to 17 were seen at 31 hospitals, either for having suicidal thoughts or for attempted suicide. Two-thirds were girls.
More than half were hospitalized, and more than 13 percent needed intensive care. The rest were treated in an emergency setting or held for observation.
Overall, suicide-related teen hospitalizations accounted for 0.66 percent of all hospitalizations at the children’s hospitals in 2008. But by 2015, that figure had more than doubled, to almost 2 percent, according to the report.
Increases were seen across all ages, but differed across certain groups.
For example, the rise in suicide-related hospitalizations was particularly high among teens aged 15 to 17, who accounted for more than half of all the cases. The second highest rise was seen among teens aged 12 to 14, who accounted for 37 percent of all cases.
The report was published online May 16 in Pediatrics.