A new study has found that the number of suicide attempts among children and teenagers in the U.S. are highest during school months and lowest during the summer.
The research, published in the journal Pediatrics recently, showed that at least 25 percent of the total annual suicide-related hospital visits on average have occurred during winter, spring and fall months, while visits from June to August account for only 18.5 percent.
The authors of the study have surmised that the high rate may be due to the increased stress that youths are facing during the school season.
"If you look at adult populations, actually the summertime is the highest rate for adults. So I think school plays a unique role compared to depression and suicide in adults, and certainly we're seeing more anxiety disorders, and more things that certainly rev up or seem triggered by school," said Dr. Greg Plemmons, associate professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, according to AOL.com.
The researchers analyzed data from 31 children's hospitals during the period of 2008 to 2015. The findings revealed that the suicide attempts among youths have doubled in the past decade. A total of 115,856 suicide-related hospital visits were recorded between 2008 and 2015, with two-thirds of the patients being girls.
The number of child cases involving suicide attempts or suicidal thoughts in the hospitals have more than doubled from 0.67 percent in 2008 to 1.79 percent in 2015.
Teenagers between 15 and 17 years old accounted for 59,631 of the cases. A total of 43,682 cases involved children aged 12 to 14, while 15,050 of the cases were among children aged between 5 and 11.
"Puberty is a risk factor for suicide, which could partially explain the dramatic rise in 15- to 17-year-olds," Plemmons, the lead author of the study said, according to Medical Xpress.
He further noted that "cyberbullying and other factors may also be playing a role," particularly among girls, who tend to be avid users of social media.
Around 157,000 youths between the ages of 10 and 24 are treated in emergency rooms in the U.S. each year for suicide attempts, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Plemmons noted that it may be difficult for parents to distinguish whether teenagers are just manifesting normal moody adolescent behavior or really experiencing a mental health crisis or depression.
"Signs to consider would include increasing withdrawal and isolation from peers or family, which could manifest as increased electronic time; changes in sleep or appetite; decline in school performance; or lack of interest in things which previously provided enjoyment," Plemmons noted.