Mental Disorder Hospitalizations of Brazilian Children Grew 36% in 2018

Experts say increase may be linked to increased suicide attempts in this group

Cláudia Collucci
São Paulo

The number of hospitalizations of children and adolescents for mental disorders jumped in 2018 after five years of no significant increases. Among children aged 10 and 14, the rate went from 14 to 19 per 100,000 (36% increase). In the age group of 15-19 years, it increased from 75 to 85 per 100,000 in the same period (up 12%).

The data obtained by Folha came from the Ministry of Health, which surveyed SBP (Brazilian Society of Pediatricians)  pediatricians about child and adolescent psychiatric hospitalizations.

Patient L.S was recently hospitalized for a suicide attempt (Foto: Eduardo Knapp/Folhapress, COTIDIANO). - Folhapress

For experts, the problem is complex and cannot be explained by one factor. One hypothesis is that suicide attempts, which invariably require hospitalization, may be driving this increase.

Between 2013 and 2017 (2018 data is not consolidated, but point to an increase), the increase in notifications of suicide attempts among children aged 10 to 14 years was 225% (from 1,719 cases to 5,596). Between 15 and 19 years, from 192% (from 4,605 to 13,443 cases).

"There is a social problem that is reflecting on the mental health of adolescents. The same is true in other countries. Social networks have greatly influenced behavior," said doctor Fátima Marinho, from USP's Institute for Advanced Studies.

According to WHO (World Health Organization) data, the suicide rate has increased by 7% in Brazil, contrary to the world index, which fell 9.8% in the last seven years. Among young people aged 15-19, it is the second cause of death among girls (after maternal) and third in boys (after traffic accidents and interpersonal violence).

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon

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