Colorado Hospital System Declares 'Pediatric Mental Health State of Emergency' amid Rising Youth Suicide Rates

John Paluska | Contributor | Wednesday, May 26, 2021
Colorado Hospital System Declares 'Pediatric Mental Health State of Emergency' amid Rising Youth Suicide Rates

Colorado Hospital System Declares 'Pediatric Mental Health State of Emergency' amid Rising Youth Suicide Rates

At an unprecedented rate, Colorado children are attempting suicide and arriving in emergency rooms in psychiatric crisis. Alcohol and drug abuse to cope with mental health struggles are also on the rise, the Colorado Sun reports.

The Children's Hospital Colorado system has declared a "pediatric mental health state of emergency," with the main campus in Aurora and branches in Colorado Springs, Highlands Ranch, and Broomfield all agreeing that the number of mental health problems among children is unprecedented. Children in mental health crisis now occupy 12 or 13 beds, and medical staff are clearing out rooms in medical units to make them safe for children who arrive threatening suicide.

"The current system is simply unsustainable, and it's failing our children," said Heidi Baskfield, who is the vice president of population health and advocacy at Children's Hospital Colorado. And many experts and health policy analysts say the lockdowns are to blame. Especially in Colorado, where Dr.  David Brumbaugh, who is the Chief Medical Officer of Children's Hospital, said the last 15 months have seen an unprecedented increase in child mental health problems.

This hasn't just been happening in Colorado, either. Dr. Taranjeet Jolly, an adult and pediatric psychiatrist at Penn State Health's Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, told WebMD that "We've seen an upsurge in really bad suicide attempts," and the pandemic is likely behind that increase. During the pandemic, social isolation can push children with underlying mental health issues "over the edge," according to Jolly, whose statements were part of a Penn State Health news release obtained by WebMD. Parents should keep an eye out for certain behavioral changes in their children, Jolly warned.

Doctors say that it is becoming more common for children to suffer from panic attacks, heart palpitations, and other symptoms of mental anguish. Chronic addictions to mobile devices and computer screens, which have become their sitters, teachers, and entertainers during lockdowns, curfews, and school closures, have also become more common. The problem is also hitting hard in other countries, with French psychiatrist Dr. Richard Delorme, who is the head of the psychiatric unit at the Robert Debré pediatric hospital, telling the Associated Press, "There is no prototype for the child experiencing difficulties. This concerns all of us."

So, what can you do if you suspect your child is under stress as a result of the lockdowns? If parents are concerned about their children's mental health, Dr. Jolly advises them to consult a primary care provider, who can give advice to them on what to do next. Additionally, simply being present in their children's lives can help. For example, he suggested that families prepare meals together, play games, and participate in outdoor activities such as walks or runs.

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Fizkes

John Paluska has been a contributor for Christian Headlines since 2016 and is the founder of The Washington Gazette, a news outlet he relaunched in 2019 as a response to the constant distribution of fake news.