Suicide and Children
Suicide has become much more common in children than it used to be. For children under age 15, about 1-2 out of every 100,000 children will commit suicide. For those 15-19, about 11 out of 100,000 will commit suicide. These are statistics for children in the USA. Suicide is the fourth leading cause of death for children ages 10-14 and the third leading cause of death for teenagers 15-19. Recent evidence suggests it is the lack of substance abuse, guns, and relationship problems in younger children which accounts for the lower suicide rates in this group. The main way children kill themselves depends on what lethal means are available and their age. In countries where guns are readily available, such as the USA, that is the usual cause of suicide. Other causes are strangling and poisoning. Suicide attempts that do not result in death are more common. In any one year, 2-6% of children will try to kill themselves. About 1% of children who try to kill themselves actually die of suicide on the first attempt. On the other hand, of those who have tried to kill themselves repeatedly, 4% succeed. About 15-50% of children who are attempting suicide have tried it before. That means that for every 300 suicide attempts, there is one completed suicide. What makes a child more likely to attempt suicide?
Teen Suicide: Too Young To Die
Is Your Child Depressed?
If a child has major depressive disorder, he or she is seven times more likely to try suicide. About 22% of depressed children will try suicide. Looking at it another way, children and teenagers who attempt suicide are 8 times more likely to have a mood disorder, three times more likely to have an anxiety disorder, and 6 times more likely to have a substance abuse problem. A family history of suicidal behavior and guns that are available also increase the risk. The vast majority (almost 90%) of children and adolescents who attempt suicide have psychiatric disorders. Over 75% have had some psychiatric contact in the last year. If a number of these are present, suicide risk needs to be carefully assessed regularly. If children are constantly dwelling on death and think being dead would be kind of nice, they are more likely to make a serious attempt. Many people have thought that the main reason that children and adolescents try to kill themselves is to manipulate others or get attention or as a "cry for help". However, when children and adolescents are actually asked right after their suicide attempts, their reasons for trying suicide are more like adults. For a third, their main reason for trying to kill themselves is they wanted to die. Another third wanted to escape from a hopeless situation or a horrible state of mind. Only about 10% were trying to get attention. Only 2% saw getting help as the chief reason for trying suicide. The children who truly wanted to die were more depressed, more angry, and were more perfectionistic. Predicting suicide is very difficult. It is even more difficult in children and adolescents. When we discuss suicide, there are three different levels of concern. Suicidal Thinking
This means a person is thinking about suicide but has no plan. This is not uncommon. About 3-4% of adolescents will have considered suicide in the last two weeks. However, these thoughts are much more likely, and more likely to be serious, if the child has previously made a suicide attempt is depressed, or is pessimistic. Children who are still depressed and have made previous suicide attempts are extremely likely to be thinking seriously about suicide. Example: Jenna is 13. She is quite depressed. She has most of the symptoms mentioned. She sleeps poorly, she has no energy, can't concentrate on her work and is super cranky. She thinks about running away or how nice it would be to out of this horrible life. She thinks sometimes about killing herself, but she doesn't think about how she might do it. At the moment, she says she...
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