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Local Study Shows Shows Relationship, Behavioral Differences In Suicidal Children And Adolescents

The Centers for Disease Control says suicide was the 10th leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 11 in 2014. It's the first time suicide in this age group showed up in the CDC's leading causes of death. A study conducted in Columbus shows relationship and behavioral differences between children and adolescents who committed suicide. Mike Foley explains.

Children who died by suicide were more likely to have relationship problems with family members or friends whereas early adolescents were more likely to have boyfriend/girlfriend issues according to a study out of Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s Center for Suicide Prevention and Research. Dr. Arielle Sheftall led the study, which focused on suicides among 5-to-14-year-olds in 17 different states from 2003 to 2012. While mental health problems were present in about 33 percent of the study group, Sheftall says 29 percent disclosed their intention for suicide. She says other warning signs include being unhappy for an extended time, withdrawing from friends and school activities or frequently acting aggressive or irritable. Dr. Jeff Bridge, the center’s director, says although suicide is extremely rare in elementary school-aged children, parents should be aware that children can and sometimes do think about it. If there’s a safety concern, Bridge says it’s important to talk with kids about it. He says research has refuted the notion that asking children directly about suicide will trigger suicidal thinking or behavior. Bridge says it actually provides hope for children at risk. Researchers say more studies are needed to establish whether unique patterns of suicide risk exist, so prevention strategies could be tailored to a child’s developmental level, race or ethnicity. The research team is currently investigating the best ways to screen young people for suicide risk in healthcare settings and make the appropriate treatment recommendations. Franklin County has a crisis hotline specifically for teens at 614-294-3300. 

Mike Foley joined WCBE in February 2000, coming from WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. He earned Broadcasting and Journalism degrees from the University of Florida.
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