REPORT: More children and teens are visiting emergency rooms following suicide attempts

REPORT: More children and teens are visiting emergency rooms following suicide attempts

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Some hospitals are reporting a spike in the number of patients treated following a suicide attempt. The rising numbers are among those under the age of 18.

"At UW Health, we've seen a big increase in the number of teens reporting to the ER with suicidal ideation or attempted suicide. Our past year was the highest we've ever seen," said Dr. Shanda Wells, UW Health Pediatric Behavioral Health Specialist.

Among high school students, 22% report self harm, and 25% of high school girls say they've thought about attempting suicide. That's according to new data from the State Office of Children's Mental Health.

The report found that 34% of students feel sad and hopeless almost every day, a 10% increase over the last 10 years.

"We don't have any solid data on exactly what is causing this increase in teen suicide but there are some speculations that it could have something to do with the pandemic," said Dr. Wells.

In the Milwaukee area, the issue is particularly impacting children of color.

"A lot of the things that we're seeing when we talk about mental health in the youth is essentially how much of this behavior could be in relation to having been hurt. Trauma," said Tarsha Wiggins, licensed clinical social worker and founder of Speak Wellness.

"Our focus is on abolishing stigma in the BIPOC community in relation to mental health," she said.

Parents are encouraged to look out for changes in behavior and mood in their kids.

Wiggins is heavily involved with youth locally, raising mental health awareness with events like "Trap Therapy", a merge of music and important conversation about mental health tools.

She says even with her efforts, there's always a need for more resources. "We need more connection, we need more partnering," said Wiggins.

Help is available by texting or calling the 988 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.


 


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