As the pediatric mental health crisis worsens, the rate of adolescent suicide-related cases is increasing, including adolescent cases of self-poisoning.
Data from the National Poison Data System was analyzed for trends in rates and frequencies of all pediatric suspected suicides between 2015 and 2020.
There were 514,350 pediatric suspected suicides analyzed, with the largest increase in rate of suspected suicides occurring in children ages 10 to 12 years (109.3%, p = 0.002). Rates also increased significantly in children ages 13 to 15 years (30.3%, p < 0.001) and 16 to 19 years (18.1%, p < 0.05). The most commonly utilized substances were ibuprofen and acetaminophen, with the largest increase in rate of exposures seen for acetaminophen. Discussion: This data demonstrates concerning rises in cases of self-poisoning, suggesting that the pediatric mental health crisis is worsening and extending into younger populations. Pediatric populations have easier access to over-the-counter medications, potentially explaining the likelihood of utilization of these medications in pediatric suspected suicides.
Initiation of appropriate mental health screenings and interventions should be considered in these young age groups in order to prevent further rises in self-poisoning cases and associated morbidity and mortality.