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Suicide in young children



I just read again an article in the American Psychological Association Magazine, “The Monitor” (December 2016). Although the article is a few years old, I would like to share some points with parents as well as pediatricians about screening and identifying early signs of depression, and even suicidal ideation in children who are younger than adolescent age: 


1.     According to the article, although suicide in younger children is not as frequent than in adolescents, suicide is the third-leading cause of death for this age group in the U.S.

2.     Children who are pre-adolescents are more likely to attempt suicide driven by circumstantial factors (such as being bullied) , as compared adults and adolescents who are more likely to be driven by other factors. 

3.     There is a link between suicide and psychiatric conditions that are not just depression, but also ADHD, Bulimia, Intellectual Disability. 

4.     Suicide rates increase after someone is discharged from a psychiatric hospital. 

5.     If a young child verbalizes to his/her parents that he/she would like to die, or to hurt him/herself, the first reaction may be of denial: “How can my young child even understand what this means?”. Parents should take their children’s words seriously, and even if their children do not really have suicidal thoughts, just the fact that they say something so extreme is a reason to look into this “call for help” further. And it is important to show the child a calm approach to letting him/her know that parents are there listening, and that they are ready to help. 

6.     The first step is to let the child talk and express him/herself. Then, to decide whether to speak to a pediatrician, or to a psychologist who is specialized in children and adolescents as symptoms of depression, suicidal ideation and other disorders are expressed differently by children than by adults and older adolescents. Monitor December 2016

Posted in: Family Life

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