The most interesting and saddest thing when examining the case of suicide is undoubtedly child suicides. Before moving on to why these little people, who have not yet completed their physical development, have not developed their personalities, and have not had the pleasures of life, commit suicide at this age, let’s examine how and when the concept of death develops in children.
In the early years of childhood, death is synonymous with the invisible. At the end of the first year, the baby thinks that her mother does not exist because she is not with him. At a later age, the child learns that he is not completely alone and that he can control this power. Between the ages of 2-4, the child develops some fantasies. These fantasies that last until the age of 6; Death wishes against a loved one. When such fantasies increase, the child feels ashamed and guilty about this thought. Because wanting someone else’s death is more terrible than thinking about your own death.
The concept of death is not fully developed until the end of childhood; The child thinks that death is only for adults. It is against his nature to seriously consider killing himself when responding to environmental challenges. Here his fantasies and daydreams come to his aid. Thoughts of suicide do not come to their minds through these.
As the child gradually grows up, passing from the passivity of life to the activity of the game, he transfers his unpleasant experience to one of his playmates, and thus takes revenge on himself through a substitute.
According to studies, almost all children have temporary suicidal tendencies. Although children enjoy the thought of the effect their death will have on others, they also refuse to practice it.
It is common for children to run away from home. Studies have shown that running away from home and suicide have the same dynamics. The child thinks that he will get rid of his problems by getting away from home. Not being with loved ones has the same result as their dead. However, a life full of severe fear and distress can create an environment for the child to think of harming himself/herself other than escaping.
Thoughts about death often form in children after the age of 10. For this reason, suicide events are not common in children under the age of 10. Even those older than 10 years of age have very low suicide rates. However, suicide attempts are many times higher than actual suicides. The main reason for this proportional difference is that the chosen method is not lethal, and the two behaviors have different dynamics – as stated before. In the real suicide group, it is due to the formation of the broken family factor and the death of the parents to a large extent. Parental divorce is high in suicide attempts.
With the suicide attempt, the child aims to solve the problems in the family. He thinks that by frightening his parents with such a reaction, he will restore the broken family unity; It is quite successful in this. Because many of the broken families are reunited for their children.
In real suicides, the loss of one of the parents and the desire to be reunited with him can lead the child to death. In addition, the child may commit suicide with the depression resulting from the inclusion of anger towards others with feelings of guilt and shame.
Although we have noted that child suicides are few in number, approximately 75% of these suicides are carried out by boys. In enterprises, girls make up the majority. Because girls are more forced to be passive, they make more attempts to achieve something, while boys want to die more as a result of opposing authority, hatred, and aggression.
Managing others, gaining love and effectiveness, punishing the people they love are among the reasons that lead children to commit suicide. The child has said before, “you will be very sad when you lose me” etc. made warnings, but still did not receive the necessary attention; The last resort would be suicide. Suicide events in the family can also attract the child sometimes. Even if this tendency does not appear in childhood, it can sometimes manifest itself in the future. The important thing here is that the tendency emerges in childhood.
As a result, we can say that the most important factor in child suicides is the family. With the breakup of the family as a result of divorce or death, the child is deprived of the love he needs most. Also, showing too much or too little attention can lead to this kind of behavior. It should also be noted that one of the most important things that family members trying to socialize the child should do is to give some satisfactory information about life and death, albeit a little.
Child suicides do not exceed 10% of the total suicide rates in almost every country. Most of them are carried out by those who are older than 9-10 years old.
Children’s inability to perceive the true meaning of death is also a risk factor for suicide attempts.
It is noteworthy that boys who attempt suicide often show signs of mental disorders.
Depression is an important risk factor in children and adolescents as well as in adults.
Suicide is also closely related to inadequacy of problem solving skills, stress and feelings of hopelessness.
Children aged 9 and over understand the irreversibility and universality of death. At the same time, children this age are about to step into adolescence, a developmentally challenging period. Severe living conditions, personal factors and unexpected events increase the pressure on children of this age and suicide poses a risk.
Perfectionism and cognitive factors also pose a risk for suicide attempts.
In our country, the fact that children are involved in exam preparations from an early age, and that they have to carry the flag of a race they are not ready for, is among the factors that increase this pressure and risk.
Reasons such as setting unrealistic standards and goals for oneself and not being able to tolerate criticism when unsuccessful also contribute to suicide attempts by children and young people.
Immigration, family breakdown, and living with a single parent without social support are also among the causes of suicide attempts.
Unemployment and the related economic problems, separation of the family or the child from the place and person they belong to, interruption and change in social relations also pose a risk for suicide attempts.
Family conflicts, neglect or abuse are also risk factors for children’s suicide attempts.
In addition, family problems, incompatibility, domestic violence, separation and loss are among the factors that increase the risk of suicide.
HOW CAN A CHILD HELP?
1- Make age-appropriate explanations.
2- Avoid abstract explanations.
3- Do not explain death as a journey or sleep.
4- Allow him to ask questions and talk.
5- Do not overlook his curiosity.
6- Look at photo albums of deceased family members.
7- Get them to visit the cemetery.
8- Do not hide your own feelings.
9- Talk about their worries that something will happen to their parents or themselves.
10- Talk to children about feelings of guilt.