Over 16 percent of preadolescents have contemplated suicide, says a new study published in Archives of Suicide Studies (July). Universitat Rovira i Virgili (Spain) researchers studied a group of 720 boys and 794 girls in 13 schools during three developmental periods: 10, 11 and 13 years old. At the start of the study, the students answered a series of psychological tests that were used to detect whether they displayed emotional symptoms related to depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). 16 percent of ten-year-olds stated they had thought about suicide. In the second (11) and third (13) developmental periods, ideas of suicide were expressed by 18 percent of students surveyed with the severity of suicidal behaviour greater in male children.
The researchers also observed what factors predicted suicidal ideation and found differences between the sexes. “In boys, it is previous depressive symptoms which determine subsequent suicidal ideation. In girls, on the other hand, it is a combination of anxiety symptoms, OCD and the family’s socio-economic situation,” says Núria Voltas, researcher at the Universitat Rovira i Virgili.