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  • Writer's pictureSaundra Smyrski

Breaking News! Alarming Increase in Pediatric Suicidal-Related Hospital Visits

CEO of Children's Hospital Colorado, in Aurora, recently declared a state of emergency in youth mental health! This was prompted by an astronomical increase in pediatric mental health cases, including suicide!

Between April 2019 and April 2021, at this hospital system, the necessity for Pediatric behavioral health services, increased by 90%. In Colorado, suicide is now the number one cause of death among youth and occurs in children as young as age 10 years (Yasgur, 2021).

According to Hausmann, the pediatric Emergency Room is overrun with children who've attempted suicide, amongst many other mental illnesses.

"We had to draw attention to what we're seeing in our hospital and our community on an everyday basis- an unprecedented number of suicidal children who need acute treatment for behavioral health problems — and when I say 'unprecedented,' I'm serious — I've been in pediatrics for two decades and have never seen anything like this before," David Brumbaugh, MD, a pediatric gastroenterologist and chief medical officer for Children's Colorado, told Medscape Medical News (Yasgur, 2021),

Jenna Glover, PhD, child psychologist and director of psychology training at Children's Hospital, mentions that this type of crisis isn't birthed over night, but rather, that depression, anxiety, and other mental health concerns have been increasing over the last decade, in the youth population, in Colorado. She says, "... we were already in a state of crisis." COVID-19 was "the straw that broke the camel's back."

Colorado Springs had a 145% increase for ED behavioral health visits during the first 4 months of 2021, compared to the first 4 months of 2020.

"We took kids out of their normal routines, social circles, friendships, etc, for 12 months, and that was the limit of their physiological or mental resistance, and they got to the end of their rope (Yasgur, 2021)," Brumbaugh said. He further mentions that the amount of children in need of inpatient services, far supersedes that of the allotted beds available." "This is an unacceptable situation. We would never allow a child with leukemia or appendicitis to go several weeks without treatment," he said.

Glover stated, "Kids are burned out, and although they're asking to return to their life, they don't feel they have the resources. They feel so behind; they don't know how to catch up."

Brumbaugh said that there are not enough child psychiatrists to provide outpatient services or enough inpatient beds for children in crisis.

Crawford, who is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Massachusetts, stated, "...the pandemic amplified what was already going on and made it impossible to ignore." "Policymakers and insurers need to prioritize pediatric mental health when determining allocation of healthcare." Crawford continued. "Many psychiatrists do not want to accept insurance because of the increased bureaucracy and low reimbursement rates of insurance companies, and families cannot afford to pay out of pocket, "so we really need to look at the insurance issue at a policy level," Crawford said.


Yasgur, B. S. (2021, June 4). Child suicides drive hospital to declare state of emergency. Medscape Nurses.

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