Is there a link between emergency hospital visits and suicide completion?

Date posted: 
Wednesday, November 22, 2017

According to the World Health Organization, suicide is a growing public health concern, contributing to over 800,000 deaths globally, every year, across all age groups.  In 2012, suicide was the second leading cause of mortality in the 15 to 29 year old demographic, and the rate of suicide in youth aged between 10 and 19 has been steadily increasing over the past decade, particularly among males.

There is evidence suggesting that mental health disorders (especially depression) and prior suicidal attempts are associated with an increased likelihood of suicide completion.  While studies show a significant association between mental health and suicide completion, the link between a mental health crisis visit to pediatric emergency department (PED) and subsequent suicide completion has yet to be examined. To date there has been no Canadian-based research on the frequency and timing of suicide completion among youth who have sought care for mental health concerns in a PED.

Joshua Lee, a medical student at the University of British Columbia’s Department of Pediatrics hopes to shed light on this issue in a study examining patient outcomes, with regard to suicide completion, among youth seeking mental health care at BC Children's Hospital PED.  The study will also examine the relationship between emergency visit disposition decision and the incidence rate of suicide, and also report on the time duration between the last PED contact and the time of suicide completion.

The thesis study is funded by the Child and Family Research Institute (CFRI) and supervised by Dr Dr Quynh Doan, Assistant Professor at UBC’s Department of Pediatrics and Clinician Scientist at the CFRI.

“The results of the study will provide clinicians and public health workers with valuable statistics on the incidence of suicide completion, as well as inform them on how disposition decision may influence the likelihood of suicide,” says Mr Lee. “I hope it will bring adolescents’ mental wellness into focus and allow clinicians and health ministries to examine potential barriers to care in pediatric psychiatry.”

PopData will link data from the BC Ministry of Health, BC Vital Statistics Agency with data from the Emergency Department of BC Children’s Hospital and the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System for the project.

Page last revised: November 22, 2017