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Kids and Suicide.

Updated on June 4, 2010

Kids. Suicide. Put the two together and you have a subject no one likes to talk about.


How many of us know our children's deepest fears, their top priorities, and their inner struggles?

My son was 5 years of age when we got our divorce. He hardly could speak about emotions or feelings. That's not what a 5 year old boy does. But when you looked him in the eyes. I can hardly describe what I was seeing. A lot of anger, a lot of grieve. He almost didn't smile; he was a quiet little boy. He always was a boy who had difficulties when something changed in his life. At school they said he was autistic, but I didn't believe that. Something else was wrong.

At age 6, his aggression got worse. He would hit me in the face or stomach; hit his little brother on the head. And he started to ask about death. Started to talk about death with his only friend who was very ill and who knew that she could die in a few years. His eyes showed me, that it was more than just a talk about death to satisfy his curiosity. But no one believed me. Until the moment came, that he tried to jump in front of a truck, while he was "playing" outside. His dad still didn't want to believe that his son tried to do something what could change or end his life. He just thought that it was accidental behavior of a child playing on the streets. The fact that it happened more than once, didn't change a thing.

In tears; I started to call the doctor, psychologists, and psychiatrists. Just anyone who could help my son and me. I got help very soon after my calls.

He was examined by several psychologists while he was playing and in the mean time they tried to find out what was on his mind. And while playing, the thing he said was, he was out of balance; just like the scale he was playing with at that time. And he showed the psychologist what was happening to him. She didn't hear the voice of a six year old child as he started to explain and talking, she heard a child in the age of 14, talking about his struggles with himself, the struggles he had when he had to face that my ex husband and I divorced. His feeling of loneliness he had for a long time, his feeling of getting lost when he felt emotions. And his feeling of wanting to die, because he thought it would give him peace.

A lot of people were surprised to hear that he was in a depression. I wasn't really. I had recognized it in some way and the pieces of the puzzle were complete.

We decided to go for a treatment without medication. And he would stay at home. Everyone who had part in his life knew about this and everyone took part in him getting better. School, grandparents, friends. Very intensive, but after 4 years we could finally say that we had won. He felt a lot better, learned to talk about his feelings and we had a lot of counseling. I'd quit work for 6 months and after that I got a job that had better working- hours. While he went to school, I would work and when he came home, I was at home too.

Warning signs

The reasons behind a child's suicide or attempted suicide can be complex. Although suicide is relatively rare among children, the rate of suicides and suicide attempts increases tremendously during adolescence. Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for 15- to 24-year-olds

Suicide among children(usually teens) often occurs following a stressful life event, such as a perceived failure at school, a breakup with a boyfriend or girlfriend, the death of a loved one, a divorce, or a major family conflict.

Most children who commit or attempt suicide have given some type of warning to loved ones ahead of time. So it's important for parents to know the warning signs so that kids who might be suicidal can get the help they need.

A child who is thinking about suicide might:

  • talk about suicide or death in general
  • talk about "going away"
  • talk about feeling hopeless or feeling guilty
  • pull away from friends or family
  • lose the desire to take part in favorite things or activities
  • have trouble concentrating or thinking clearly
  • experience changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • (self-)destructive behavior

Watch and listen

It's important to keep the lines of communication open and express your concern, support, and love. It's important not to minimize or discount what your child is going through, as this can increase his or her sense of hopelessness.

If your teen doesn't feel comfortable talking with you, suggest a more neutral person, such as another relative, a clergy member, a coach, a school counselor, or your child's doctor

Ask questions

Some parents are reluctant to ask their child if they have been thinking about suicide or hurting themselves. Some fear that by asking, they will plant the idea of suicide in their head.

It's always a good idea to ask, even though doing so can be difficult. Sometimes it helps to explain why you're asking. For instance, you might say: "I've noticed that you've been talking a lot about wanting to be dead. Have you been having thoughts about trying to kill yourself?"

Get help

If you learn that your child is thinking about suicide, get help immediately. Your doctor can refer you to a psychologist or psychiatrist, or your local hospital's department of psychiatry . In a crisis situation, just go to your local hospital to the emergency room.

My son is 12 years old now. He hardly remembers what he was thinking back then; he only remembers his "mood- swings". We always have to be aware of this happening again, but we talk a lot and he enjoys life as it is now.


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    • Lazur profile image

      Lazur 9 years ago from Netherlands

      I don't know RGraf, maybe the child didn't show enough signs, maybe there were no parents that listened, maybe the teachers didn't notice, maybe no friends. Who can tell.

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 9 years ago from Wisconsin

      I remember with sadness at least one suicide a year in high school. It was so sad. Why wasn't someone listening?

    • Lazur profile image

      Lazur 9 years ago from Netherlands

      You're welcome. The number of children committing suicide or a suicide attempt is still in the rise. Reason enough to know what's on your own childrens mind.Just to be able to help them in time.

    • In The Doghouse profile image

      In The Doghouse 9 years ago from California


      Thank you for these warning signs. I think Teen suicide is an important topic that in some way effects everyone. Depression in children is on the rise. Thanks for your insights.