Suicide-related teen hospitalizations accounted for 0.66 percent of all hospital visits in 2008. But by 2015, that figure had more than doubled, to almost 2 percent, according to a study published Wednesday in Pediatrics.
The findings showed that in 2008 through 2015, nearly 116,000 children aged 5 to 17 were seen at 31 hospitals, either for having suicidal thoughts or for attempted suicide. Two-thirds were girls.
Suicide is now the third leading cause of death among American adolescents, the study authors noted.
Increases were seen across all ages, but was particularly high among teens aged 15 to 17, who accounted for more than half of all the cases.
The findings "are not surprising," and that "colleges have also reported a dramatic increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression among students and in use of counseling services," said study author Dr. Gregory Plemmons.
"Puberty is a risk factor for suicide, which could partially explain the dramatic rise in 15- to 17-year-olds," Plemmons said. And, a "lack of access, and cultural stigmatization in seeking care for mental health issues may play a role" in differing vulnerabilities by race, he noted.
Girls appeared to use social media more often, "so cyberbullying and other factors may also be playing a role" in their much greater risk, Plemmons added.
Data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shown that the number of teenagers dying by suicide is also on the rise.
Suicide is also a significant public health issue for American adults. US life expectancy has decreased dramatically for the second year in a row, caused by drugs, alcohol and suicides, particularly among middle-age white Americans, The BMJ reported in February.