When people think of suicide, they usually don’t imagine an elementary or middle-school-aged child. However, a new study suggests that suicidal teens oftentimes attempt suicide at a much younger age than previously thought.
“Nearly 40 percent of young adults who said they had tried suicide said that they made their first attempt before entering high school,” according to a medicalxpress.com article.
“The researchers also found that suicide attempts during childhood and adolescence were linked to higher scores of depression at the time of the attempts, validating for the first time that young adults can reliably recall when they first attempted suicide.”
Researchers show a link between early suicide attempts and later, long-term psychological issues.
"Young adults who end up having chronic mental health problems show their struggles early," said James Mazza, an author of the study and a professor at the University of Washington, in the article. He thinks the study points to starting programs for mental health at elementary and middle schools.
For parents who are concerned about the possibility of their children attempting suicide at a young age, experts have information on warning signs of psychological issues in younger children that parents can look out for. Keep in mind that just because children might have mental health issues, this doesn’t mean they will try to commit suicide, but it’s in everyone’s interest to at least try to prevent the possibility.
Irene Celcer, a parenting and mental health expert, said in an email that the way a child develops and the relationship he or she has with the mother can affect psychological health.
“If a child cannot rely on its environment to feel secure by the time she/he is one and a half years old, later on, that child will have a pattern of not being able to trust adults and the world in which he lives, even when he becomes an adult,” Celcer said.
There are multiple behaviors and characteristics to look for in children that might be a sign of psychological issues, and parents shouldn’t just focus on and get worried over one abnormal behavior necessarily.