Canadian research finds steep increase in suicide attempts by children

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.

The Montreal Children's Hospital reports emergency room visits for suicide attempts and suicidal thoughts have increased by 55 per cent rise 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 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.