A new study from Vanderbilt University states that teenage students experience increased stressed and mental health challenges while school is in session, and it is getting worse.
The study, which was published in the medical journal Pediatrics examined emergency room trends and inpatient suicide-related diagnoses in children ages 5 to 17 at 31 children’s hospitals from 2008 to 2015.
The researchers used a month-by-month analysis and found that seasonal trends of suicidal ideations peaked during the fall and spring, then dropped sharply in the summer. For adults, the research states that suicide is likely to occur during summer months.
Authors of the study published the following findings in their report:
Recent media attention has been focused on how schools and social media impact behavior and the role social contagion may play. With our findings, we underscore the need for future work to explore the relationship between school and suicidal [thoughts], recognizing that the role of academics is a complex one.
Between 2008 and 2011, 31 children’s hospitals reported 35,000 suicide-related diagnoses. Over the period length of the recent Vanderbilt study, which was between 2012 to 2015, the number increased to about 80,000 – it nearly doubled.
Adolescent girls had the highest rate of suicide-related diagnoses. Over two-thirds of hospital encounters were teenage females. The authors of the study state that the findings of the study are essential to the overall sex-specific approaches need to screen and prevent suicides. The authors of the study also want to explore the link between today’s stressors at school and suicidal thoughts.
While increases were seen across all age groups, they were highest among teens ages 15 to17, followed by ages 12 to 14.
According to the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents in the United States, preceded only by accidents and homicides.
“The growing impact of mental health issues in pediatrics on hospitals and clinics can longer be ignored,” said Dr. Greg Plemmons, one of the lead researchers, “particularly in a time when mental health resources for children appear to be static, and woefully scarce across the U.S.”