HealthDay News — Emergency department visits for attempted suicides rose globally among youth during the pandemic, according to a review published online March 9 in The Lancet Psychiatry.
Sheri Madigan, Ph.D., from the University of Calgary in Canada, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review and meta-analysis to compare rates of pediatric emergency department visits for attempted suicide, self-harm, and suicidal ideation before and during the pandemic in those younger than 19 years of age.
Based on 42 studies (11.1 million emergency visits; 18 countries), the researchers observed good evidence of an increase in emergency department visits for attempted suicide during the pandemic (rate ratio [RR], 1.22; 90% confidence interval [CI], 1.08 to 1.37), modest evidence of an increase in emergency department visits for suicidal ideation (RR, 1.08; 90% CI, 0.93 to 1.25), and good evidence for only a slight change in self-harm (RR, 0.96; 90% CI, 0.89 to 1.04). For other mental illness, rates of emergency department visits showed very good evidence of a decline (RR, 0.81; 90% CI, 0.74 to 0.89), as well as strong evidence of fewer pediatric visits for all health indications (RR, 0.68; 90% CI, 0.62 to 0.75). The combination of rates for attempted suicide and suicidal ideation showed good evidence of an increase in emergency department visits among girls (RR, 1.39; 90% CI, 1.04 to 1.88), but only modest evidence of an increase among boys (RR, 1.06; 90% CI, 0.92 to 1.24). Among older children (mean age, 16.3 years), self-harm showed good evidence of an increase (RR, 1.18; 90% CI, 1.00 to 1.39), but among younger children (mean age, 9.0 years), there was modest evidence of a decrease (RR, 0.85; 90% CI, 0.70 to 1.05).
“In future pandemics, increased resourcing in some emergency department settings would help to address their expected increase in visits for acute mental distress among children and adolescents,” the authors write.