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ED Visits for Self-Harm by Girls Are on the Rise

Stockwell, Serena

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AJN, American Journal of Nursing: March 2018 - Volume 118 - Issue 3 - p 13
doi: 10.1097/01.NAJ.0000530923.41338.ce
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Abstract

Figure
Figure:
In a now viral YouTube video, Amanda Todd used a series of flash cards to tell her experience of being blackmailed, cyberbullied, and physically assaulted. She committed suicide in 2012. Photo courtesy of www.amandatoddlegacy.org.

ED visits have increased significantly among girls ages 10 to 14 years with non-fatal self-inflicted injuries (poisoning and wounds with sharp or blunt objects), according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers.

Their study of three age groups (10 to 14, 15 to 19, and 20 to 24 years) found that although the trends for such injuries among boys remained relatively stable, the age-adjusted rates for girls increased 8.4% a year from 2009 to 2015. But in the youngest group of girls, the increase was 18.8% per year, from 109.8 per 100,000 population in 2009, to 317.7 per 100,000 in 2015. The increases for girls in the two older age groups were much less—7.2% and 2%, respectively.

Although reasons for the upsurge are not completely clear, the researchers note that their findings coincide with previously reported increases in suicide and depression among young people. For example, one study showed a 23.5% increase in youth suicides in the United States between 2011 and 2015. Another study documented that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents are at higher risk for suicide compared with their heterosexual counterparts. Also, more generally, data from the large-scale National Survey on Drug Use and Health show that depression has increased markedly from 2005 to 2015, particularly in young people.

Supportive family, community, school, and peer environments were all found to reduce thoughts of suicide, the Utah researchers found. Such support was defined as that in which youth feel involved, valued, and able to ask for and receive help.

The CDC researchers said their findings underscore the need for evidence-based, comprehensive suicide/self-harm prevention for youth and for creating protective environments, teaching coping and problem-solving skills, and identifying and supporting those at risk.—Serena Stockwell

REFERENCE

Mercado MC, et al. JAMA 2017;318(19):1931-3; State of Utah Department of Health, Utah Health Status Update, 2017 Dec; Caputi TL, et al. JAMA 2017;318(23):2349-51; Weinberger AH, et al. Psychol Med 2017 Oct 12 [Epub ahead of print].
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