Suicidality in psychiatrically hospitalized children and adolescents: Demographics, treatment, and outcome

BACKGROUND: Despite the high prevalence of suicidality in psychiatrically hospitalized youth, its risk factors and impact on inpatient psychopharmacologic treatment are unknown. We identified characteristics associated with suicidality in psychiatrically hospitalized youth and determined the association of suicidality with subsequent psychopharmacologic interventions.

METHODS: Medical records from consecutive psychiatric admissions to a large, acute care, urban, pediatric hospital were analyzed retrospec­tively (N = 1,309). Demographic, clinical, and treatment-related features of suicidal and nonsuicidal youth were characterized. Logistic regression identified predictors of suicidality, and multiple comparison analyses evaluated the association between suicidality and changes to antidepres­sant prescribing during inpatient course.

RESULTS: Compared with nonsuicidal patients, inpatients who were sui­cidal were more likely to have a mood disorder or posttraumatic stress dis­order, as well as Cannabis and alcohol use, were more commonly girls, and at least 13 years of age (all P < .05). Hospitalization was shorter for suicidal patients, was more likely to be associated with antidepressant treatment (P < .001), and among suicidal patients prescribed antidepressants at the time of admission, was associated with a greater likelihood of changing antidepressant treatment compared with nonsuicidal inpatients (P < .05).

CONCLUSIONS: These findings reveal differences between suicidal and nonsuicidal psychiatrically hospitalized youth and suggest that suicidal­ity is associated with specific pharmacologic treatment approaches within this population.

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