Children’s suicide-related hospital visits rise during school months, finds study

Getting back together with schoolmates, starting new classes, and plunging into the hub of happenings may sound thrilling to many students, but there are some who might not be excited by such a flurry of events. The very thought of school could trigger bouts of undue stress and performance anxiety in them that might snowball into bigger complications. Now, a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics in May 2018 shows the association between suicidal tendencies and conventional school year. The researchers examined data taken from emergency departments on visits for suicide attempts and suicidal ideation at 31 children’s hospitals across the United States between 2008 and 2015.

“We noticed that anecdotally here in our own hospital over the last several years, we would have a fairly quiet summer as far as kids coming in for mental health issues, then right about four to six weeks after school started, we became inundated,” said lead author of the study Dr. Greg Plemmons, an associate professor of clinical pediatrics at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Tennessee. In fact, Plemmons said that the trends seem to be consistent across the U.S.

According to the study, the number of hospital visits for suicidal thoughts and attempts by children in the age group of five to 17 years doubled between 2008 and 2015. The researchers attributed such behaviors to the growing anxiety caused by incidents of cyberbullying, regular bullying in school, traumatic events and the daily dose of negative news from social media. Additionally, fears about a new teacher, anxious feelings about the type of children who would be there in the new session, and anticipations of a tough and cumbersome year ahead might also add to the growing anxiety factor. The researchers also observed that more suicide-related hospital visits were reported during fall and spring, and comparatively lesser ones during the summer months.

Suicide is a serious public health problem that affects many young people in the country. It is the third leading cause of death for youths between the ages of 10 and 24, and results in approximately 4,600 lives lost each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Children can develop anxiety disorder

Anxiety is something that children experience from time to time. It is normal and natural when a child fears that something bad or not so good might happen. In fact, feeling anxious about myriads of things while growing up is a healthy sign of development. But when the fears are not transitory in nature and children continue to dwell on them, then this is a clear warning signal. If ignored, it could considerably affect the way they perform at school, their ability to make new friends, and their life at home.

Some of time-tested ways to help children break the cycle of anxiety are to teach them cope with the disorder, rather than treating it as a deterrent in life. Doing so will cause anxious feeling to wither away over a period of time. Secondly, instilling confidence by being positive and reassuring can help children overcome their fears. This will help them realize that they can handle expectations.

Leading an anxiety-free life

It is quite distressing to see teenagers struggling with anxiety-related disorders. Although children tend to feel anxious about many things at various stages of adolescence, if anxiety becomes a phobia, then it signals trouble. Moreover, when worry continues day after day, it needs an expert’s help. Its treatment can be a challenge.

General psychotherapy can help in cases of mild to moderate anxiety symptoms that persist beyond the first few weeks of school. Specialists work by understanding changing thoughts and behaviors that contribute to how adolescents feel. Most adolescents are usually able to get over teen anxiety disorder with professional help. Fortunately, it is a highly treatable condition, with more than 80 percent of them getting better with help. White River Academy, a reputed therapeutic boarding school in the U.S., helps male adolescents recover from psychiatric ailments like depression and anxiety. For more information about teen anxiety disorder treatment, call our 24/7 helpline or chat with our online counselor.

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