U.S. Children And Teens Are Attempting Suicide At Alarming Rates: Canadian Study

43 per cent of the U.S. children were under age 12.

A Canadian researcher says the number of children taken to hospital for suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts is rising, and more data and resources are needed to address the problem.

Dr. Brett Burstein co-authored a study published this week that found the number of children who have been hospitalized in the United States for contemplating or attempting suicide doubled between 2007 and 2015 to 1.12 million from 580,000.

The Montreal emergency room physician says comparable national data isn't available in Canada, but evidence suggests a similar trend is occurring.

More and more children are attempting to commit suicide, according to a new study.
More and more children are attempting to commit suicide, according to a new study.

The Montreal Children's Hospital reports emergency room visits for suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts have increased by 55 per cent since 2015 and now account for approximately two per cent of all visits.

Burstein says one of the most disturbing findings to emerge from the American data was the fact that 43 per cent of the children taken to the emergency department were under the age of 12.

He says the study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, shows a clear need for more mental health resources and emergency room preparedness, and better data collection in Canada so public health authorities can get a better handle on the problem.

Are you in a crisis? If you need help, contact Crisis Services Canada at their website or by calling 1-833-456-4566. If you know someone who may be having thoughts of suicide, visit CAMH's resource to learn how to talk about suicide with the person you're worried about.

CORRECTION: Canadian Press erroneously reported that a study on child suicide attempts was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was in fact published in JAMA Pediatrics, a separate journal.