Family conflict is a significant predictor of suicidal thoughts in children as young as nine and ten years, says a study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, USA. The study, published in JAMA Open Network (February), analysed 11,814 children aged nine-ten and found that 2.4-6.2 percent of them experienced suicidal thoughts ranging from wishing they were dead to devising plans to commit suicide.
When it came to translating thought into action, less than 1 percent of the children said they had tried to commit suicide while 9 percent reported non-suicidal self-injury. In more than 75 percent of cases, parents and/or caregivers were unaware of their children’s suicidal tendencies. “Historically, the belief has been that people don’t ask children about suicidal thoughts before adolescence. Our data suggests that’s very inadvisable. Kids are having these thoughts. They’re not as suicidal as adults, but they are not trivial,” says Deanna Barch, professor of radiology in the Washington University School of Medicine.