Suicide New Leading Cause Of Traumatic Death For Young Patients At One North Texas Hospital

Suicide surpassed car wrecks and child abuse as the leading cause of traumatic death in 2020 at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth.

Video Transcript

- Suicide led the deaths of more trauma patients at Cook Children's Medical Center last year than car accidents or child abuse. And so far this year, children are attempting suicide at just another record pace. Our Jason Allen reports.

JASON ALLEN: A medical center with a mission to save children's lives is seeing a growing number of patients who want their lives to end. In March, Cook Children's Medical Center admitted 43 children following suicide attempts, a new record for a single month.

KRISTIN PYRC: They're feeling hopeless and they just give up.

JASON ALLEN: That hopelessness, Cook Children's psychiatrist Dr. Kristin Pyrc explained, is being fueled by the isolation of the yearlong pandemic. It arrived as doctors were already seeing a rise in child mental health and suicide cases, and increased the loneliness and pressure felt by kids.

KRISTIN PYRC: It's hard to see that things are going to get better if you're only in your room doing virtual school, you don't talk to anyone else. Like, if you're so isolated, it's hard to see that things will ever change or get better, because you only see what's around you.

JASON ALLEN: The majority of the 118 suicide patients Cook Children's has seen in 2021, nearly 90% of them, have been girls, 14 or 15 years old. Doctors have identified another 440 children this year in need of consultation for mental health care. Cook Children's is starting an awareness campaign this month, addressing social media, medications, and isolation, trying to slow the trend. Asked if it's still possible to turn things around--

KRISTIN PYRC: I hope so. And I think-- I'm really hopeful, but I think it's going to take teens actually seeing and experiencing it to believe it.

JASON ALLEN: In Fort Worth, Jason Allen, CBS 11 News.

- And if you need help or you know someone who does, remember, you can get it any time, 24 hours a day through the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. It is toll-free. You can call 1-800-273-8255.