Is suicide a leading cause of death in children? Crisis.2014.

07 11 2014

Suicide is a leading cause of death among children under 15.  There is not much literature specifically focusing on under 15 suicide. Under 15 s differ from older young people in physical, sexual, cognitive and social development. Understanding suicide related factors in this age group is important in planning any intervention.

Rebecca Soole, Kairi Kõlves and  and Diego De Leo from Griffith University, Melbourne looked at psychosocial and psychiatric factors associated with child suicide using Queensland child death register. This is a comprehensive data base for the region.Suicdie occurring between ages 10- 14 were compared with that in 15-17 yrs ( adolescents) and against age matched control groups with external causes of death.

Findings:

Suicide accounted for almost one-third of external causes of death. ( 27% in children, 33% in adolescents). In both groups this was the second leading cause of death after transport related deaths.Boys died by suicide more often ( two-thirds)  in both groups . Indigenous status was more associated with suicide.Children living in remote areas were more likely to die by suicide. ( OR 3.46).

Nearly half children who died by suicide were known to child protection systems. Siblings of  victims were also more likely to be known to child protection systems.

Both children and adolescents used hanging more often, in children this was 91%, adolescents 80%.Mental and behavioural disorders  were detected in half of children. Half of these children had shown previous suicidal behaviour. One-third of children experienced various form of abuse.

Limitations: The data base have information on psychosocial and psychiatric variables only for suicides and not for other external causes. Prevalence of mental disorders can be underreported as the data come from police, coroner and family sources.

Conclusions

Factors related to child suicide are different from adolescents. family and  environment play an important role in child suicide. There were many opportunities for intervention.

Summary of the article:

Factors related to childhood suicides.

Soole R, Kõlves K, De Leo D.Crisis. 2014

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