Children and Suicide

Most people do not realize that children under age 12 are capable of killing themselves. over the last few decades, the suicide rate among young children has risen dramatically. Between 1980 and

1996 the suicide rate among children 10 to 15 has skyrocketed by 100 percent.

Most suicides among children between ages five and 14 are among the older children; it is fairly rare (although not unheard of) for children under age 10 to take their own lives. The reason why suicide is rare before puberty is not known, but it is universally true for all cultures. It may be that critical risk factors such as depression or exposure to drugs and alcohol are rare in very young children.

Experts believe that many suicides among children are unreported or misreported as accidents in young children, and that the actual number of youth suicides may be two to three times higher than official statistics indicate.

In the United States youth suicide rates are highest among the western states and Alaska, and lowest in the southern, north-central, and northeastern states. Overall, the U.S. suicide rate for children under age 15 is twice the rate for all other countries combined. For suicides involving firearms, the suicide rate for children in the United States is almost 11 times higher than the rate for all other countries combined.

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