According to the latest study presented on May 6, at the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) annual meeting in Washington, DC has shown that approximately 20% of youth who indulge in suicidal attempts have guns in their homes.
Deaths due to suicide is considered as the second leading cause of death in youth having age in between 10 to 24 years in the United State, according the latest statistics provided by the center for disease control and prevention (CDC).
The objective of this study was to develop a suicidal screening tool that can help in finding that which type of youth require mental health evaluation. During this study all the participants were asked regarding the availability of guns and their access at home.
“For more than 1.5 million adolescents, the ED is their primary point of contact with the health care system, which makes the ED an important place for identifying youth at risk for suicide,” said Stephen J. Teach, MD, MPH, FAAP, associate chief in the Division of Emergency Medicine at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, and co-author who will be presenting the study at the PAS meeting.
Currently it is not possible to determine the risk of suicide in the youth that can be used by parents and clinicians unless they have a suicide risk screening tool, said by senior author Lisa M. Horowitz, PhD, MPH, staff scientist/pediatric psychologist at the National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md. “According to our data, when asked their opinion, nearly all of the kids in our study were in favor of suicide screening in the ED. Our study shows that if you ask kids directly about suicide, they will tell you what they are thinking.”
“While many youths who kill themselves have mental health disorders, up to 40 percent of youths who kill themselves have no known mental illness,” said co-author and youth suicide expert Jeffrey A. Bridge, PhD, principal investigator at The Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and associate professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University. “Therefore, it is important to screen all children and adolescents for suicide, regardless of the reason they are visiting the ED.”
This study was conducted on 524 patients having ages in between 10 to 21 years who were feeling some sort of problems including psychological, medical and surgical at one of three pediatric EDs. They were provided a questionnaire consisting of 17 questions in order to develop Ask Suicide-Screening Questions (ASQ)
Researchers’ findings suggest that 151 (29%) completed the screening tool and they were at the risk of suicide, 17% of them said that they have guns in their homes. They further found that 31% knew how to access the guns, similarly 31% were familiar regarding the method require to find the bullets and 15% were those who knew how to access both the guns and bullets.
“This study highlights the importance of parents understanding the risks of having guns in their homes,” said Dr. Bridge. “Being at risk for suicide and having access to firearms is a volatile mix. These conversations need to take place in the ED with families of children at risk for suicide.”
Reference: Jeffrey A. Bridge, Stephen J. Teach, Ian H. Stanley, Elizabeth A. Wharff, Maryland Pao, Lisa M. Horowitz. Access to Firearms among Patients Screening Positive Suicide Risk in Pediatric Emergency Departments.
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