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Self-poisoning suicide attempts spike among young people in past five years, study finds

Source: Health Policy Institute of Ohio


A new study has found that suicide attempts by ingesting toxic substances or overdosing on medications soared by 26% over the past five years among people ages 6 to 19 (Source: “A Growing Number of Young People Are Attempting Suicide by Self-Poisoning,” Time, June 1, 2022).

The study published in the journal Clinical Toxicology found that the number of self-poisoning attempts increased in each of the five consecutive years, from 75,000 in 2015 to 93,500 in 2020. During that same time, there were a total of 514,350 calls to poison control centers involving children ages 6-19 who, according to the control centers’ guidelines for suspected suicide attempts, had “an exposure resulting from the inappropriate use of a substance for self-harm or self-destructive” reasons.

“We began to notice an increase in younger aged children attempting suicide by acute overdoses in our clinical practice [the University of Virginia Health System],” said Christopher Holstege, MD, chief of the division of medical toxicology at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and a co-author of the paper, in a statement. “We were disturbed at our institutional numbers and decided to perform research on the national numbers which confirmed that this increase was not just a local issue, but a national issue.”

Immediate help and resources are available for anyone who is in crisis. You can call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline 24/7 at 800.273.TALK (800.273.8255), or text the Crisis Text Line at 741741.

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