Scientific publications

Self-injury and suicidal behavior in children and youth population: Learning from the pandemic

Feb 24, 2023 | Magazine: Anales de Pediatría

Paula Vázquez López  1 , Paula Armero Pedreira  2 , Lidia Martínez-Sánchez  3 , José Miguel García Cruz  4 , Concha Bonetde Luna  5 , Félix Notario Herrero  6 , Ana Rosa Sánchez Vázquez  7 , Pedro Javier Rodríguez Hernández  8 , Azucena Díez Suárez  9

Introduction: Suicidal behaviour and self-harm are increasing in children and adolescents. Non-suicidal self-harm are a dysfunctional method of emotional regulation, and it must be distinguished from suicidal behaviours.

Methods: Narrative review of the current situation on suicide and self-harm in Spain. Descriptive study of suicidal behaviours in paediatric emergencies.

Results: Mental health consultations were analysed (March-2019 to March-2020 and March-2020 to March-2021) in a multicentric study of the SEUP (Spanish Society of Pediatric Emergencies), finding a 122 % increase of the diagnosis of "non-accidental drug intoxication" and 56 % of "suicide/suicide attempt/suicidal ideation". In another prospective analysis, 281 attempts were recorded, with the patient profile being: female (90.1 %), 14.8 years old, 34.9 % without previous psychiatric diagnosis; 57.7% with previous suicidal behaviour. The presence of psychiatric disorders, especially depression, and previous attempts, are the best-known risk factors for suicidal behaviour, although other factors are involved (family, personal or social). Pediatricians should be trained to deal with questions about suicide and acquire the skills to conduct an interview with a supportive and empathetic attitude. In Spain, suicide prevention plans are heterogeneous among communities, and there is not a unified national suicide prevention plan.

Conclusions: Primary, hospital and mental health care resources for paediatric population should be strengthened to prevent suicidal behaviours. Specific training for school staff, and child and adolescent psychiatry training for paediatricians and nurses are crucial in the prevention of suicide in children and adolescent population.

CITATION  An Pediatr (Engl Ed). 2023 Feb 24;S2341-2879(23)00032-7. doi: 10.1016/j.anpede.2022.11.005