More young people at risk of suicide, say doctors

School pressure can be a factor in adolescent crises, especially for girls Keystone

Emergency hospital admissions of young people for psychiatric problems are on the increase in Switzerland, according to a report by national broadcaster SRF. 

This content was published on July 13, 2018 - 20:25

Problems include anxiety disorders, eating disorders, depression and suicidal thoughts, but especially attempted suicides. 

Figures from the University Psychiatric Hospital in Zurich, for example, show the number of emergency cases involving children and adolescents rising steadily from 46 in 2007 to nearly 650 in 2017. 

The hospital’s chief child and adolescent psychiatrist Dagmar Pauli says 90 percent of cases involve self-harm. "The figures are alarming and show that young people facing life problems are more suicidal than a few years ago," says Pauli. He believes that social media may play a part. 

In-patient cases also reached a new high in 2017 at the Zurich hospital. 

+ Read more about teenage suicide in Switzerland 

The reportExternal link (in German) also cites rising numbers of young people in psychiatric units in Bern and Aargau. "The majority of cases involve young people at risk of suicide," explains chief child and adolescent psychiatry doctor Kaspar Stuker at the University Psychiatric Hospital in Bern. 

Suicide is the most common cause of death in Switzerland among 15- to 19-year-olds. In 2015, 35 young people in that age group took their own lives, according to the Federal Statistical Office, but the overall suicide rate has remained fairly stable over recent years. 

"Today we offer help at an early stage, the number of hospital places has been increased and society is more sensitive to young people facing such crises than just a few years ago,” Zurich doctor Dagmar Pauli told SRF. 

At around 75 percent, the proportion of boys who take their own lives is much higher than girls. In contrast, the proportion of girls in psychiatric treatment is higher. Pauli says this is because girls tend to talk more about their problems.

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