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May 16, 2018

Suicide is on the rise among kids and teenagers, a new study has found. Published Wednesday in the journal Pediatrics, the findings revealed that hospital visits for suicide-related reasons nearly doubled between 2008 and 2015.

By examining billing data from U.S. children's hospitals over that seven-year period, the researchers found that suicidal thoughts were increasingly responsible for hospital visits by adolescents. Suicide attempts and suicidal ideation were the cause of just 0.66 percent of visits in 2008, but in 2015 the percentage spiked to 1.82 percent, per the Pediatrics study. The visits were especially high among teenagers 15 to 17 years old.

The study further found that adolescent girls appear to be at a slightly higher risk than their male peers for suicide. NPR noted that puberty — a "risk factor for suicide" — could possibly be behind the divide, as girls tend to reach puberty faster than boys.

Beyond age and gender, the seasons also seemed to influence suicide rates. The study notes that spikes occurred in spring and fall, while summer observed the lowest suicide rates. "It really speaks to the stress and the strain at school," Dr. Robert Dicker, a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Zucker Hillside Hospital, told NPR. "Kids appear to be under much more academic success to achieve and their perception of falling short." Read the full study at Pediatrics. Mary Catalfamo

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