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Preteens visiting ER prone to suicide ideation, finds study
Mar 29 2019

Preteens visiting ER prone to suicide ideation, finds study

Mental Health

Multiple teens visiting the emergency department (ER) of a hospital may be in terrible need of help because they have suicide ideation, suggested a recent study. It was discovered that multiple children aged between 10 and 12 years visiting the hospital for either physical or mental ailments were found to be positive for suicide risk.

The scientists at the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH) and in another place investigated the medical records of 79 preteens who visited the ER units of three large children’s hospitals in the United States. Of these, 50 percent patients visited the ER for mental health concerns like depression or anxiety while the remaining 50 percent had physical ailments. Alongside the standard medical admission information, all the patients were also made to answer two questionnaires for the assessment of their risk of suicide.

The survey had yes/no questions which enquired if in the last couple of weeks, at any time did the preteen feel that their family would be happier if they were no longer alive? Based on the answers of the survey, in general, nearly 30 percent patients met the criteria for being at suicide risk. This comprised 54 percent kids who were screened with mental health disorders and 7 percent kids who had reported only physical ailments initially. Unfortunately, suicidal actions, including self-harm, was also reported by nearly 17 percent of the population previously.

Preteens screened positive for suicide risk

The study findings got published in the journal Hospital Pediatrics in March 2019. Lisa Horowitz, lead author of the study, stated that normally, suicidal feelings and patterns were observed in grown-up teens, however, it was alarming to discover that several preteens were also screening positive for the risk of suicide and many of them had taken action on their suicide ideation at some time.

According to the data presented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in younger children, suicide is rare, with only 136 children, aged 5-12, succumbing to it in 2017. However, it remains a highly unexplored subject, particularly in comparison to suicide in the other age brackets. Besides, there is a marked discrepancy between the American and African-American children. Like a study in 2018 established the suicide risk among children of African-Americans had increased steadily from 2001 although, it had actually gone down amongst the American children. Consequently, in 2015, kids of color were two times as likely as white kids to succumb to suicide.

Young patients silent sufferers and in need help

The present study investigated a very small sample size at only three hospitals, therefore, the findings cannot be generalized. According to the authors, it may be too soon to accept suicide ideation is prevalent in 30 percent of the kids visiting the emergency departments in the U.S. However, one thing is clear that numerous young individuals are suffering in silence and a lot of efforts are required for identifying and helping them.

Horowitz shared that their study showed that children, even younger than 10 years, visiting the ER maybe contemplating suicide and every preteen must be screened, whatever their presenting symptoms are, to save their lives. Otherwise, these children may pass unscreened through the medical systems and ultimately succumb to suicide either in the near future or at a later date.

Seeking help for suicide ideation

Preteens are at a vulnerable stage of life where impending puberty, studies, self-image issues can be quite distressing for them. Nevertheless, it is important that they share everything with their parents or caregivers so that there are no pent up feelings. If there are any signs of anxiety or depression, they must be helped with professional consultation at the earliest.

ADEONA Healthcare of Rancho San Diego, the leading renowned mental health care provider for adolescents and teens aged 12-17, offers evidence-based treatment approaches for anxiety and depression in teens. To know more about our mental health treatment centers, call our 24/7 helpline (888) 997-3966 and speak to a representative. You can also chat online to get more information about other behavioral and mental health treatment programs offered at our state-of-the-art, certified locality.