Suicide attempt by hanging in preadolescent children: a case series

West Afr J Med. 2008 Oct;27(4):259-62.


Background: Suicide is now among the five top causes of death in youth worldwide. However, during the preadolescent period, suicidal behaviour is rare and difficult to define because the cognitive level of young children limits their ability to plan and understand the consequences or the finality of suicide. There is virtually no information about preadolescent suicidal behaviour in Nigeria.

Objective: To illustrate the presentation and psychosocial issues associated with preadolescent suicidal attempt using the 'hanging' method in Nigeria.

Methods: Three case scenarios of suicide attempt by hanging in preadolescents seen at the University College Hospital, Ibadan between 2005 and 2006 were interviewed in detail along with mental state and physical examination. Family and individual therapies were embarked upon.

Results: Types of psychopathology found in the preadolescents include depressive symptoms, conduct and oppositional defiant disorder and impulse control problems. Stressful life events such as family disruption, physical abuse, and bullying at school were factors associated with suicidal behaviour. The influence of the media in providing information about 'hanging' as a method of suicide was evident. Therapy yield varying results.

Conclusion: High risk parameters for suicide in children should be known to all health professionals. The importance of intervention strategies particularly media education, monitoring systems and further research on suicidal behaviour in this environment is apparent.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Family / psychology*
  • Family Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Nigeria
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Psychology, Adolescent
  • Risk Factors
  • Social Problems / psychology*
  • Suicide, Attempted / psychology*