Rising Rates of Children’s Hospital Visits for Suicide Thoughts, Attempts

The percentage of patients seen at U.S. children’s hospitals each year for suicidal thoughts or attempts has increased steadily, according to a recent study published in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death in children and young adults ages 10-24.

Rising rates for suicide thoughts, attempts infographic

Learn the warning signs of suicide in children and adolescents

Mental Health Inpatient Center

Our Mental Health Inpatient Center, which opened in April 2018, is the only center in Orange County that can accommodate children younger than 12. The 18-bed Center is designed for patients ages 3 to 17.

ASPIRE® Intensive Outpatient Program at CHOC Children’s

This intervention (four afternoons/evenings per week for eight weeks) is intended to prevent psychiatric hospitalization and re-admission in high school teens ages 13-18. CHOC opened the IOP in early 2018.

Mental health screenings in primary care settings and the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Children’s Hospital

One-third of all visits to pediatricians are solely for psychological reasons. To support immediate assessment and intervention in primary care, CHOC is providing depression screenings in its own clinics and promoting embedded mental health care in pediatric practices. We also provide depression screenings in the CHOC emergency department.

Mental health triage at the Julia and George Argyros Emergency Department at CHOC Children’s Hospital

Implemented in fall 2016 with public and private funds, the innovative family-based crisis intervention model helps families address mental health crises and is already reducing psychiatric hospitalizations (25 percent reduction) and time spent in the emergency department (17 percent reduction).

CHOC Children’s is taking a leadership role in tackling the pediatric mental health crisis in Orange County. Half of children with symptoms of mental health disorders have conditions that cause significant impairment in daily life. In Orange County, 20 percent of youth reported needing help for mental health problems, while less than a third actually received that help.

Learn more about CHOC’s commitment to mental health

Related posts:

  • Depression and Suicide Prevention: Know the Warning Signs
    Dr. Heather Huszti, chief psychologist at CHOC Children’s, offers insight on the warning signs of depression and suicide in children and adolescents.
  • Preventing Suicide in Children
    Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24, which underscores the importance of recognizing depression and warning signs in youth, CHOC Children’s chief psychologist ...

 

Depression and Suicide Prevention: Know the Warning Signs

All children experience days or periods of sadness or other deep emotion. It’s when those feelings are persistent and last longer than a several weeks that it may be time to seek professional help, according to mental health experts at CHOC Children’s.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals ages 10-24 in the United States. Suicidal children and adolescents may have depression, or a combination of other mental illnesses such as anxiety disorder, attention deficit disorder, bipolar disorder, or child-onset schizophrenia, says Dr. Heather Huszti, chief psychologist at CHOC Children’s.

Dr. Heather Huszti

Other signs that children may be depressed include:

  • Changes in behavior, including appetite
  • No longer enjoying activities they used to like
  • Changes in sleeping pattern
  • Always feeling tired,
  • Isolating themselves socially
  • These changes may be especially concerning if connected to a significant loss or change

“It’s difficult to imagine that children as young as 10 could attempt to end their lives, but unfortunately it can happen,” says Huszti. “The first thing parents can do to help their children is talking openly about mental health issues and any concerns they might have, including talking about the potential warning signs.”

Download your copy of CHOC’s “Let’s Talk About It” guide and learn how you can help start a conversation about mental health.

Warning signs that a child may be considering suicide include:

  • Giving away possessions or making a will
  • Threatening, planning, or joking about suicide
  • Sending despairing texts or online messages
  • Expressing feelings of failure or shame
  • Avoiding friends and social situations
  • Engaging in risky behavior

Always take warning signs seriously, advises Huszti. If your child, or anyone else, is in immediate danger of self-harm, call 911. Other local and nationwide resources are available, such as 24/7 suicide prevention lines and 24/7 crisis response services.

Learn more about CHOC’s commitment to mental health

Related posts:

Preventing Suicide in Children

Suicide is the third leading cause of death for people ages 10 to 24, which underscores the importance of recognizing depression and warning signs in youth, CHOC Children’s chief psychologist says.

Among others, irritability, sadness, social withdrawal, and changes in sleep and appetite are indicators of depression, says Dr. Heather Huszti. Follow are warning signs that a child may be considering suicide:

  • Gives away possessions
  • Makes out a will
  • Threatens or plans suicide
  • Jokes about committing suicide
  • Sends despairing texts or posts online
  • Expresses feelings of failure or shame
  • Shows signs of major depression
  • Avoids friends
  • Engages in risky behaviors

A nationwide survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which found that more than a quarter of teens in grades 9 through 12 felt sad or hopeless every day for at least two weeks – a key sign of depression. Sixteen percent had seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year, about 13 percent reported creating a plan, and 8 percent said they had tried to take their own life within the previous year.

Dr. Huszti emphasizes that parents must teach children to speak up if they ever consider suicide – or if a friend expresses suicidal thoughts.

“Teach your kids that if someone tells your child they are considering killing themselves, that is serious and not something we keep a secret,” Dr. Huszti says. “You have to tell an adult immediately. Tell your parent or a teacher.”

Adults who become aware of another child’s suicidal thoughts should contact his or her parents. If this isn’t possible, inform the child’s school, Dr. Huszti advises.

Check out CHOC’s website for a comprehensive list of resources and hotlines. In addition, follows are other resources for children and families suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts:

Also, check out “KnowBullying,” a new and free mobile application created by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in collaboration with StopBulling.gov.

The application provides parents, caretakers, educators and others with information and communication support to help prevent bullying and build resilience in children and teens.

More psychology-related articles:

  • Learning Disabilities and Your Child
    Many children have learning disorders that affect everything from their reading comprehension to their math abilities. Learning disabilities affect the brain’s ability to receive, process, analyze, or retain information. If your ...
  • Diagnosing ADHD
    “I help families understand that attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a neurobehavioral disorder. It is not a disorder of effort, character, intelligence, parenting skills or self-control.
  • ADHD and Diet: Fact vs. Fiction
    By Vanessa Chrisman, RD, CLE, CHOC Children’s clinical dietitian Learning to care for a child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can be a daunting task for parents. Families must decide whether ...