There were 115,856 visits to hospitals by children who attempted suicide or had suicidal thoughts between 2008 and 2015, according to a report published in the May 2018 edition of Pediatrics, the official journal from the American Academy of Pediatrics. Over those seven years, the annual percentage of visits for those two reasons almost doubled, from 0.66% in 2008 to 1.82% in 2015.
More teens than younger children arrived at hospitals with such feelings of despair. “Significant increases were noted in all age groups, but were higher in adolescents 15 to 17 years old and adolescents 12 to 14 years old,” the report said. The rise coincided with the spring and fall semesters of school, and dipped during the summer, suggesting that issues are compounded in school.
Younger children who died by suicide more often experienced relationship problems with family members and friends and less often had boyfriend/girlfriend problems or left a suicide note, a separate study published last year in Pediatrics found. Among those with mental-health problems, childhood suicides more often involved attention-deficit disorder and depression in older children.
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Last year, the American Association of Poison Control Centers said it observed a 50% increase in “intentional exposures” — that is, potential suicide attempts — by adolescents from 2012 to 2016. In 2016, poison centers managed more than 76,500 cases of intentional exposures in young adults. Poisoning is the third most common form of suicide nationwide, after gun shot and suffocation.
The increase of suicides by was far lower than the rates of actual attempts or suicidal thoughts. The suicide rate was 2.6% in 2014 for males aged 10 to 14 and 18.2% for males aged 15 to 24, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, compared to 1.5% in the same year for females aged 10 to 14 and 4.6% for females aged 15 to 24.