Completed suicide in childhood

Psychiatr Clin North Am. 2008 Jun;31(2):271-91. doi: 10.1016/j.psc.2008.01.006.

Abstract

Suicide in children and young adolescents up to 14 years of age has increased in many countries, warranting research and clinical awareness. International reported suicide rates per 100,000 in this young population vary between 3.1 and 0 (mean rate worldwide, approximately 0.6/100.000; male-female ratio, 2:1). Suicide occurs only in vulnerable children; this vulnerability begins with parental mood disorder and impulsive aggression, and family history of suicide. Childhood affective and disruptive disorders and abuse are the most often reported psychiatric risk factors. Suicide becomes increasingly common after puberty, most probably because of pubertal onset of depression and substance abuse, which substantially aggravate suicide risk. Biologic findings are scarce; however, serotonergic dysfunction is assumed. The most common precipitants are school and family problems and may include actual/anticipated transitions in these environments. Suicides in children and young adolescents up to 14 years of age often follow a brief period of stress. Cognitive immaturity/misjudgment, age-related impulsivity, and availability of suicide methods play an important role. Psychologic autopsy studies that focus on suicides in this age group are needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology
  • Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology
  • Child Psychiatry
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Suicide / prevention & control
  • Suicide / psychology*
  • Suicide / statistics & numerical data*