Preteen suicide risk at 30 percent, study says

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Suicide is a growing problem in America, and it’s especially problematic among young people, a study says.

More than 29 percent of youth between ages 10 and 12 who visited emergency rooms for either physical or psychiatric treatment screened positive for suicide risk, according to a study published Monday in Hospital Pediatrics. And among the preteens who visited the emergency room only for psychiatric problems, 54 percent showed a suicide risk, and more than 17 percent in that group had attempted suicide in the past.

“Typically, suicidal thoughts and behaviors are seen in older teens. It was troubling to see that so many preteens screened positive for suicide risk, and we were alarmed to find that many of them had acted on their suicidal thoughts in the past,” said Lisa Horowitz, a clinical scientist in the National Institutes of Mental Health and study author, in a news release. “This study shows that children as young as 10 who show up in the emergency department may be thinking about suicide, and that screening all preteens — regardless of their presenting symptoms — may save lives. Otherwise, they may pass through our medical systems undetected.”

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