- Associated Press - Sunday, May 1, 2016

COOS COUNTY, Oregon (AP) - Health officials in Coos County say suicide attempts and other mental health crises in children are increasing, but the local hospital is struggling to meet the need.

The World (https://bit.ly/1r9cE1d ) reports that Bay Area Hospital had more than 100 child psychology consultations and 62 admissions in 2014. That’s a sharp increase to the 27 consultations and six admissions the hospital experienced in 2011.

Kera Hood, hospital manager of psychiatric services says the hospital is not licensed to treat children with severe mental illnesses. When children come to the hospital, staff can only isolate them for 24-hours until they can be transferred or discharged.

“Our community is suffering from a lot of higher risk youth, and the hospital is not the best place to put a child with pediatric behavioral psych issues,” Hood said. “We’re not treating them, we’re housing them.”

The crisis has forced the hospital to reach out to Coos Health and Wellness and Kairos for help. At the hospital’s request, a pilot project is expected to launch in July to create a team that responds to the early stages of a child’s mental health crisis. Individuals, families or police officers will be encouraged to use the team’s hotline when a youth is threatening or attempted suicide.



“When we open the hotline, it is going to be a soft rollout just in Coos Bay and North Bend for the first year,” said Shawna Schaar, children’s behavioral health program manager at Coos Health and Wellness. “We will cover the whole county if we see numbers and that the team is being used. I hope it helps and we can intervene.”

School districts are also training teachers and community members in mental health first aid.

“On a regular basis, pretty much daily, we are dealing with students in the middle school and high school with serious mental health crisis,” said Kelly Barnett, North Bend School District’s school nurse.

Oregon ranks 11th in the United States for youth suicides - with the majority of those being between the ages 10 and 24.

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Information from: The World, https://www.theworldlink.com

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