Suicide in Children
Over the last decade, the rate of suicide in children as young as 5 years old has increased. Suicide is the second leading cause of death in children in the United states. Children can be affected tremendously by their surroundings, especially when they are living in unhealthy environments. These situations can often cause stress, depression and may even cause children to lash out in anger. The younger the child, the less equipped they are mentally to handle all of these different emotions and the less likely they are to verbally express their concerns. Sometimes with children, the adults in their lives can overlook their signs for help. Their signs for help can be deemed as just acting out, when they actually don’t really have the tools to express what they are feeling.
Some signs of suicidal behavior are:
- Shows signs of depression
- Socially withdraws from friends and family
- Starts to lash out and participate in risky behaviors
- They have tried to purposely harm themselves
- Academic decline in school performance
- An unhealthy interest in death related topics
- Overall lack of interest with life
- They may give away some personal items to friends or family members
- Physical ailments that can’t be explained (Headaches, pains, stomach aches etc…)
Ways to help prevent suicide:
- Listen to the person without judging what they say or do
- Remove objects that they could use to harm themselves
- If you’re noticing signs of suicidal behavior, ask the person if it’s something they’ve thought about
- Reach out to this person’s close friends and family for additional support
- Call 911 if this person is in distress and trying to actively harm themselves
- Reach out to counselors or teachers at school if you suspect your friend may want to harm themselves.
- Know the warning signs
The simplest thing we can do to prevent suicide in a child or anyone, is to listen, pay attention and know the signs. Sometimes all a person needs is someone to listen and help guide them through their feelings. A person can feel hopeless at times and think that they are not worthy of being loved or cared about which can lead to a downward spiral. Making sure we check in with our friends and family as often as we can is so important. Our mental health can be fragile at times, or even take a turn for the without warning. Having that support and providing the same support could save a child’s life.