Children and Suicide
“When a child dies by suicide, it brings a whole different level of grief, pain, and anguish to those who cared about that child.” In fact, 3% of our children are suicidal at any given time and our rates are increasing among our youth. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death for elementary school-aged kids in the U.S. Children and suicide is the second leading cause of death among our children ages 15-19 and studies show that 1 in 7 students has seriously considered suicide. These statistics are alarming and so against our innate beliefs that children can not be as hopeless as it was often seen to be required to consider suicide.
Breaking It Down
The reality is, that at a surprisingly young age, children have a pretty good grasp of the concept of death and suicide. For our youngest group issues around ADHD and ADD can increase risks as does relationship issues within the family. As children become adolescents, depression becomes a serious risk factor as does relationship issues with friends and significant others.
Parents must be able to determine the child’s risk for immediate suicide. This involves becoming aware of the behavioural and verbal clues and then communicating around the information that you have observed. Assess the child’s suicide plan – how specific is it, how lethal is it, how available is it. The more detailed and available the plan, the higher the risk for immediate suicide. Asking kids about suicide is safe and does not put ideas into their heads which is often a fear felt by parents.
Common Warning Signs In Children For Suicide Include:
- Making suicidal statements
- Being preoccupied with death in conversation, writing, or drawing
- Giving away belongings
- Withdrawing from friends and family
- Having aggressive or hostile behavior
- Neglecting personal appearance
- Running away from home
- Risk-taking behavior, such as reckless driving or being sexually promiscuous
- A change in personality (such as from upbeat to quiet)
Beverly’s Hot Tips For Building Resiliency On Stop A Suicide Today Day:
- September 10th is Stop A Suicide Today. Bring awareness and get educated on this often taboo subject. Read and learn as much as you can about suicide and also children and suicide – it’s prevalence, the signs and symptoms, personal stories from survivors. Understand that this is not an issue that affects only a few in our society. Understand the pain, that those who even consider suicide as an option, must be in.
- Be open and be not afraid. Listen to what your friends and family may be telling you about how they are feeling and coping. Are there any warning signs – if so, don’t be afraid to ask directly about the issue of suicide. Show them that you care enough to ask and that you aren’t going to run away or judge them if they admit to these dark thoughts.
- Know the resources that are available to help. Who in the community can you connect with if you suspect that someone is vulnerable.
- Check out the articles and links below. See additional facts and myths at: Children and Suicide
If you have some strategies to share – comment on this posting!