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Suicide-Related ED Visits Increased in Children From 2007 to 2015

Proportion of emergency department visits increased for suicide attempts/suicide ideation

TUESDAY, April 9, 2019 (HealthDay News) — From 2007 to 2015, the number of emergency department visits for suicide attempts (SA) and suicide ideation (SI) doubled among children, according to a research letter published online April 8 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Brett Burstein, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the Montreal Children’s Hospital, and colleagues performed a repeated cross-sectional analysis of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey emergency department database for 2007 to 2015 to examine trends in emergency department visits for pediatric SA/SI. Data were included for 59,921 unweighted visits, of which 2.8 percent met the inclusion criteria for SA/SI visits.

The researchers found that 43.1 percent of SA/SI visits involved children aged 5 years to younger than 11 years, and only 2.1 percent of patients were hospitalized. There was an increase in SA/SI visits from 2007 to 2015, from 580,000 to 1.12 million (P for trend = 0.004). No statistically significant change in total emergency department visits was seen during this time (26.9 to 31.8 million; P for trend = 0.67). From 2007 to 2015, there was an increase in SA/SI as a proportion of all pediatric emergency department encounters, from 2.17 to 3.50 percent (P for trend < 0.001). For SA only, emergency department visits increased from 540,000 to 960,000 (P for trend = 0.02).

“Findings suggest a critical need to augment community mental health resources, emergency department physician preparedness, and post-emergency department risk reduction initiatives to decrease the burden of suicide among children,” the authors write.

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