It's no secret that mental disorders like anxiety and depression are becoming increasingly prevalent all across the world. But did you know that such mental issues are becoming even more common amongst kids? A new study found that death by suicide amongst children has now reached a 30-year high in the United States. As per the study, at least 10-15% of kids in middle and high school have experienced suicidal thoughts.
And if you still aren't able to grasp just how old these kids are when they start getting such thoughts, the findings suggest that such thoughts begin as early as 9 and 10 years old. What's more, the researchers even found that family conflict and parental monitoring could play a significant role in making kids feel suicidal. Most caregivers of such children either didn't know that their children were suicidal or they didn't report it.
"There's already been press about suicidal ideation in teenagers. But there's almost no data about rates of suicidal ideation in this age range in a large population sample," said Deanna Barch, a professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences. For the study, the researchers surveyed around 11,814 9 and 10-year-olds from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study (parents or caregivers also participate in this).
They then divided suicidal thoughts as well as other thoughts and actions into several categories They found that 2.4 to 6.2% of the children were having suicidal thoughts to the extent from wishing they were dead to actually devising a plan. Thankfully, the plans were not acted upon. 0.9% of these 9 and 10-year-olds said that they had tried to commit suicide whereas 9.1% reported non-suicidal self-injury.
Speaking about this, Barch said that she did expect to see nontrivial amounts of suicidal thoughts in this age group. "There were two reasons I was sure," she said. "When you look at the CDC rate of kids in middle and high school who have these thoughts, it's pretty high. It's clear that they weren't arising out of the blue." The other reason was that in her previous work, she had already seen such thoughts in preschoolers.
It was also found that boys were more suicidal as compared to girls and as they grew up these thoughts reversed. Another factor they found that made a difference was the caregivers' association with the children. It was found that 75% of caregiver didn't know that the children in their care were feeling suicidal. Barch suggested that caregiver should start paying more attention to their kids and their behaviours.
"If you have kids who are distressed in some way, you should be asking about this," she said. "You can help identify kids that might be in trouble."