Year: 2020 Source: Journal of Korean Medical Science. (2020). 35(33), e276. SIEC No: 20200681

Background: Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI) and suicidality are common reasons for child and adolescent psychiatric emergencies. We aimed to investigate the incidence of pediatric emergency department (PED) utilization for psychiatric problems in children and adolescents and to identify demographic and clinical characteristics of youths who visited the PED for suicide attempt (SA) and/or NSSI.
Methods: The medical records of children and adolescents who visited the PED for psychiatric problems from January 2015 to November 2019 were reviewed retrospectively. Demographic and clinical variables including psychiatric disorders were collected. We compared the characteristics of youths who presented to the PED for SA and/or NSSI with those of youths without SA or NSSI. Student’s t-test, χ2 test, and multivariate logistic regression were used for statistical analysis.
Results: During 59 months of observation, 194 youths visited the PED and the number of total PED visits was 336. Among them, 46 youths (23.7%) visited the PED for SA and/or NSSI at least once, and the number of visits was 91 (27.1% of PED visits). Youths with SA and/or NSSI were older (P= 0.001) and more likely to be a girl (P = 0.005) and to report parental absence (P = 0.023). Bipolar and related disorders (P = 0.032) and depressive disorders (P = 0.004) were more common in youths with SA and/or NSSI, while schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders (P = 0.030) and somatic symptom and related disorders (P = 0.007) were more common in those without SA and NSSI. After adjusting for age, sex, and parental marital status, bipolar and related disorders (odds ratio [OR], 6.72), depressive disorders (OR, 9.59), and somatic symptom and related disorders (OR, 0.12) were significantly associated with SA and/or NSSI. Youths with SA and/or NSSI also stayed longer in the PED (P = 0.007).
Conclusion: SA and NSSI are one of the main reasons for child and adolescent admittance to psychiatric services in the PED and are associated with psychiatric comorbidities. An appropriate risk assessment for suicidality and self-injury and proper management and referral to mental health services at the PED are of the utmost importance.