Appallingly, it showed that the diagnosis of mental health issues increased from 580,000 in 2007 to 1.12 million in 2015.
A new analysis has revealed how the number of children and teens in the United States who were taken to the emergency rooms for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts have marginally increased from 2007 to 2015. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention collects data from the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and makes it public, from where researchers used the available data for their analysis, according to CNN. Researchers sampled 300 emergency rooms and tailed the number of children between the age of five and 18 who received a diagnosis of suicidal ideation or suicide attempts each year.
Appallingly, it showed the diagnoses of either condition increased from 580,000 in 2007 to 1.12 million in 2015 according to the study published in JAMA Pediatrics. At the time of evolution, the average age of a child was 13, and it was also noted that around 43 percent of the visits made were from children between the age of 5 and 11. "The numbers are very alarming," said Dr. Brett Burstein, who is the lead study author and a pediatric emergency room physician at Montreal Children's Hospital of McGill University Health Centre.
"It also represents a larger percentage of all pediatric emergency department visits. Where suicidal behavior among the pediatric population was just 2% of all visits, that's now up to 3.5%," he said. These findings don't really leave child psychiatrists aghast."We know that suicide and depression have been rising significantly," said Dr. Gene Beresin, executive director of The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital and professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. He was not a part of the study.
Want to know what are the two biggest risk factors for suicide? Depression and a former suicide attempt. Not to mention that suicide rates on the rise also means the risk factors increase as well, added Dr. Beresin. He also said that one major reason for the increase in depression and suicidal behaviors is because of the stress and pressure there is on the kids. He said, "Kids are feeling more pressure to achieve, more pressure in school, and are more worried about making a living than in previous years."
The rates of suicide have increased in all age groups and parents and caregivers are also stressed, added Dr. Beresin. He also mentioned that rates of suicides have increased in all age groups over the past 20 years and that the stress is passed down to children and teens. Also, social media plays a pivotal role in their lives today, and with that comes an increase in cyberbullying, he added. These are all contributing factors.
According to the CDC, approximately 15% of US high school students report that they've been bullied online in the past year, but other researches suggest the number could be even higher. 59 percent is the number a Pew Research Centre gave out in for students who have reported being bullied by people online. Teens also think teachers, social media companies and politicians are failing at addressing this issue.
"Cyberbullying can be especially difficult for kids. Unlike in settings like schools, it can fly under the radar without anyone knowing it's happening and without the same repercussions for the bullies," explained Dr. Neha Chaudhary, who is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School and also the co-founder of Brainstorm: Stanford Lab for Brain Health Innovation and Entrepreneurship.
Supposedly, there aren't many practicing child and adolescent psychiatrists, and the shortage in numbers is fewer than 17 providers available per 100,000 children, according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and this means that people with issues will have to wait a long time before they get to talk to someone. It also means their situation might worsen because immediate attention was not given to the issue in the first place.
"All of these systems that are supposed to be caring for children oftentimes are not talking to each other. A lot of times, kids fall through the cracks, and families are not getting the appropriate support they need," said Dr. Barbara Robles-Ramamurthy, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio. Unsurprisingly, half of the children diagnosed with such problems go untreated. Rising rates of mental health conditions in youth coupled with difficulties accessing care and long waiting lists is a bad combination, Beresin said.