'Overrun with kids attempting suicide': Children's Colorado declares state of emergency

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The CEO of Children's Hospital Colorado declared a state of emergency in pediatric mental health May 25, a first for the Aurora-based hospital. 

Jena Hausmann, CEO of Children's Colorado, said pediatric emergency departments and inpatient units are being "overrun with kids attempting suicide and suffering from other forms of major mental health illness."

In the last two years, Children's Colorado has seen a 90 percent increase in demand for behavioral health treatment, according to a hospital news release. Isolation and stress amid the pandemic has exacerbated low-level anxiety and depression among pediatric patients into suicide attempts, hospital officials said. 

"I've been in practice for over 20 years in pediatrics, and I've never seen anything like the demand for mental health services we've seen at Children's Colorado in the past 15 months," David Brumbaugh, MD, Children's Colorado chief medical officer, said in the hospital's news release. "There have been many weeks in 2021 that the No. 1 reason for presenting to our emergency department is a suicide attempt. Our kids have run out of resilience — their tanks are empty."

Children's Colorado is working to increase its mental health inpatient, outpatient and day services by more than 50 percent by March 2022, according to the hospital. 

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