CANADA: the increase in youth suicides requires doctors to increase prevention programs throughout the country


VANCOUVER – The increase in juvenile suicide rates has prompted doctors at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto to launch a clinical trial aimed at verifying whether the involvement of families in therapy could prevent such deaths throughout the country.

The child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Daphne Korczak and Dr. Yaron Finkelstein, medical staff in emergency pediatric medicine, are part of a team behind a six-week program that includes teenagers who came to the hospital before or after trying to take your own vine.

The latest data from Statistics Canada in 2011 shows 140 deaths due to intentional self-harm for boys and 58 for girls aged 15 to 19 years. A considerably larger number of cases involving young people trying to kill themselves does not end with death but leads to emergency room visits.

"In the last five years there has been a growing trend among young people in the number of admissions due to intentional self-harm, most of which can be attributed to a 102 percent increase for girls from 2009-2010", Statistiche Can says. "For girls aged 10 to 17, intentional self-harm represents 45% of all hospitalizations due to injury in 2013-2014."

Finkelstein said that an urgent response is needed because in the last two years in Sick Kids alone there has been a 66% increase in overall mental health cases of young people, adding that it is a risk of suicide.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death among Canadians aged 15 to 35, after an involuntary injury.

"What we are trying here is to fill an important gap in suicide prevention in Canada, really with the hope that we can expand, first to other centers and hopefully lead to forming a national suicide prevention program. need."

The clinical study at Sick Kids is halfway through the recruitment of 128 participants and their families for a program that includes several therapies.

Korczak said that while rigorous randomized clinical trials are generally conducted to test drugs and medical devices, for example, the same "gold standard" strategy is used for the current study, which involves two groups of adolescents and families: those involved in the therapy and those who are contacted by telephone for the use of resources in their community.

"We wanted to offer children and families a standardized treatment so that it didn't really matter who the staff was and who worked with the child and family that day or if they were admitted on a weekend or a weekday," he said, it is not the addition of most children coming to the emergency room after having harmed themselves or problems related to suicide is admitted.

"For decades people have been trying to find a program for communities and schools that works, and unfortunately there are several programs, many of which have not been evaluated against their results and many of which have not shown benefits in reducing the risk of suicide and death by suicide, "said Korczak.

Abby Couture, 20, was admitted to the intensive care unit at Kingston General Hospital in Ontario at age 14 for severe anxiety, anorexia and obsessive-compulsive disorder after waiting eight months for a referral for mental health services .

Couture said he had suicidal thoughts during his "darkest period" after leaving the hospital, when he suffered from a panic attack and depression.

"At that point we were only mainly my mother and I was trying to understand it through the help of a therapist who was able to get over her network," said Couture, who is now in the fourth year of her undergraduate degree in arts and science degree at McGill University in Montreal.

He spent another year on a waiting list before joining a peer support group, he said.

Couture said that a therapeutic program involving adolescents and parents would be extremely useful, even for families to know what types of events could trigger a mental health episode for their child and get the necessary support.

"Frankly, it can be a very discouraging thing for a parent to not only deal with the trauma of trying to cope and take care of their child, which can be a shock to their emotional system, but also try to learn therapy and resources for support them to the fullest. "

Carol Todd of Port Coquitlam, BC, said her daughter Amanda Todd was in the emergency room three times in 2012 after drinking bleach, trying to overdose on her antidepressants and cutting herself to the point that the bleeding would not stop.

Todd was 15 when he committed suicide in October 2012, soon after his last visit to the emergency room.

"Getting therapy in a program that involves your daughter would have been invaluable in helping her understand her needs instead of trying to navigate a system with few resources and long waiting lists," Todd said.

This week he will be in Los Angeles to talk to high school students about social media and online exploitation and a hospital conference on suicide in the city as part of his advocacy work.

– Follow @ CamilleBains1 on Twitter.

Camille Bains, the Canadian press


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