The number of children and teens in the United States who visited emergency rooms for suicidal thoughts and suicide attempts doubled between 2007 and 2015, according to a new report published in JAMA Pediatrics. The visits increased from 580,000 in 2007 to 1.12 million in 2015. The average age of a child at the time of evaluation was 13, and nearly half were children between 5 and 11. The Emergency and Trauma departments at The University of Kansas Health System report a similar increasing trend.
Teen suicides in Johnson County have also nearly doubled in recent years according to Johnson County Mental Health. Superintendents from six Johnson County School districts have taken the unprecedented move of working together on the problem. Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children behind accidents according to the CDC.
The findings come as no surprise to Dr. Mitchell Douglass, medical director for The University of Kansas Health System – Marillac Campus. In the video, he says people are often reluctant to talk about suicide with children, which worries healthcare providers. Dr. Douglass shares more signs of suicide among children and offers two questions you should ask to get the conversation going and find help. He also talks about how students are evaluated for suicide and then treated. “Parents, teachers and peers need to learn and watch for the signs of suicide,” Dr. Douglass said. “Don’t ignore talk of wanting to die or going to sleep and never waking up. These are important cues that a child is suffering and may need professional help.”
He says if someone you know is showing signs of suicide, they can find help by calling the suicide prevention hotline at 1-800-273-talk (8255) or texting 741-741. People can also get help at any hospital emergency department. Children or parents can also get help at a children’s’ psychiatric hospital like Marillac. All are open 24/7 for evaluations and help. “At Marillac, there is no need to call ahead … just come,” Dr. Douglass said.
The video also has b-roll from inside the Marillac facility.