One of the most concerning situations we face is when one of our teen patients tries to hurt himself or herself in a serious manner, resulting in serious self-injury and sometimes even death.
To get a better sense of just how prevalent self-inflicted injuries in teens can be, Cutler et al. (doi: 10.1542/peds.2014-3573) share the results of their analysis of more than 286,000 teens in the National Trauma Data Bank from 2009-2012 and identified more than 3600 teens with a self-inflicted injury with numbers increasing upward by year. What kinds of self-inflicted injuries were most common?
Interestingly enough, for males, it was firearm injuries and for women, cuttings and piercings. Sadly those teens who did experience an episode of self-injury also had increased odds of subsequent death when compared to teens with other non-self-inflicted traumatic injuries. So what can we do about this?
If we knew, we would be doing it—although if you aren’t assessing adolescents for access to firearms or evaluating their mental health and wellbeing, you may want to do so after reading this troubling study. Are there things you feel are working to reduce the risk of self-inflicted injury in your teen patients?
Do you discuss this topic with your adolescent patients? Share your thoughts with us by responding to this blog, sending us an e-letter, or posting your comments on our Facebook or Twitter sites.