By: Serena Crawford
A new study has shown an alarming trend in suicide amongst elementary school children (ages 5-11). While the number of children in this age group that commit suicide is still well below other age groups there are still too many children that feel that suicide is their only option. The good news is that the number of white children has decreased significantly since 1990. According to data from JAMA Pediatrics, 1.14 out of every one million children in this age group who were white committed suicide. The number has fallen to 0.77 per million. The bad news is that the number of black children committing suicide has taken an alarming climb. In 1990 the number of black children committing suicide was 1.36 per million. As of 2012 the number was up to 2.54 per million. Why has the rate almost doubled amongst black children and decreased significantly for white children?
Depression in young children is often overlooked. The data on depression in teens and adults is extensive but in young children is lacking. Black Americans historically have a disadvantage when it comes to many things and access to mental health care Is one of those things. The researchers from the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH conducted the study that was published in JAMA Pediactrics’ journal. They stated that while they do not know the exact reason that the suicide rates of black elementary students is on the rise they have suspicions. The researchers believe that the depression in young children is due to increased violence and trauma in the home. Another risk factor is severe over-punishments in schools.
They also found that the number of white children committing suicide with guns has gone down, but has remained steady in black children. They believe that this is because gun safety education is not reaching the black communities. The most common method of suicide in young black boys is hanging, which has tripled while the number for white children has remained the same. At this point more studies need to be done on the mental health of black children and how to give them better access to the resources they need to prevent these tragedies from ever happening.