UW Health sees dramatic increase in pediatric suicide-related ER visits

Over the last 10 years, there has been a dramatic increase in the monthly visits to the emergency department at UW Health Kids related to mental health, with a significant jump since 2020, according to a news release.

In 2012, UW Health’s pediatric emergency department saw about 15 patients a month who required psychiatric care, but by 2022, that number jumped dramatically to more than 40 per month, with the greatest increase in cases due to suicidal ideation, drug or alcohol intoxication, or overdose.

Children younger than 14 years old had the highest increase in psychiatric visits over the last four years, and while children 14 to 17 years old still present at a high rate, their visit rate has been similar since 2018.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death of children ages 10 to 14 years old, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s most recent publicly available data.