Startling rise in Ontario teens visiting ER for self-harm

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A study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry has found that the number of Ontario teens between the ages of 13-17 visiting a hospital emergency department for self-harm has more than doubled over nearly a decade, which proves there needs to be services for mental health supports in the province.

Increases in both types of visits were even more pronounced among teenage girls, it says.

The study was conducted using data on emergency department visits from the Canadian Institute for Health Information. It notes that teens who intentionally hurt themselves through poisoning or injury are at risk for repeated self-harm or suicide.

The authors say more research is needed to shed light on the reasons for these increases, which could indicate that more teens are harming themselves, more are seeking help in emergency departments, or a combination of both.

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Before then, rates of emergency department visits by teens for self-harm had been declining, falling by roughly a third over the six previous years, and visits for mental health issues had increased only slightly, he said.

One possibility is that the recession of 2008 contributed to familial stress, but Gardner said they would then expect to see the visit rates decline again as the economy improved.

Another more likely factor is the launch of the iPhone in 2007, and the ensuing rise in smartphone use. Social media has been blamed for many of the mental anguish faced by vulnerable people, especially teenagers. -CINEWS

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