MILWAUKEE — In the wake of new data out Friday showing that more kids across Wisconsin have been dealing with mental health issues, UW Health on Thursday confirmed it’s been dealing with a significant increase in suicide-related emergency visits for kids and teens.
“It’s really hard to know [what’s behind this], especially with the fact that a lot of kids, when they get to us, are at the point that they’re at their wit’s end and parents are at their wit’s end for how to help them,” said Dr. Allie Hurst, who serves as medical director for pediatric emergency medicine at UW Health Kids. “A lot of it is based, I think not only on the effect of the pandemic isolating a lot of kids, but also on social media in and of itself and the isolating effect that it has.”
Data from UW Health shows that its pediatric emergency department assisted 15 patients a month on average back in 2012 who required psychiatric care. Last year, just a decade later, UW Health said 40 pediatric patients are coming through the emergency department each month requiring psychiatric care, “with the greatest increase in cases due to suicidal ideation, drug or alcohol intoxication or overdose,” according to a statement.
Hurst said turning the trend around can start with something as simple as a conversation.
“I recommend talking with your kids and making sure you’re a part of their lives,” Hurst said. “A lot of things kids want to do is talk about their issues.”
For those dealing with suicidal thoughts, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has people available to help 24/7 by dialing 9-8-8.
Watch the full interview above.