Children and Suicide

In the past ten days, two grade 7 boys in my region committed suicide. I do not know the families, but I do know the schools. Both are schools that I often recommend as examples of vibrant, caring and committed community schools, with clear anti-bullying protocols in place. Suicide, can happen anywhere. When it happens to primary school children, a whole community reels. It is as if we have all failed those children.

In my previous blog, I wrote that I could blog a series on suicide. Little did I think that I would.

I would like to emphasise that I have no knowledge of the two young boys who tragically took their own lives this past week. What I am writing here is knowledge that I have of other young people. Suicide in young people can be an impulsive act, they mostly don’t comprehend the repercussions of serious acts, and most often (actually always in my experience), the young people who were contemplating suicide, had the idea that it would be helpful to their families – that they were a burden to their families, who would be relieved once they were gone. Our old enemy, “not speaking about”, combined with loneliness and shame remain the cornerstones of the despair.

Obsessions and Addictions 

Thought of suicide, once they have taken root, can acquire a hypnotic pull. Like the sirens calling, or the snake in the waters, beckoning young maidens to a watery grave, once thoughts of suicide have taken hold in the mind, they have an obsessive and hypnotic quality. A young girl once described a puppet master, who had taken over her mind, from where it controlled not only her, but also her family.  A young student described it as a wolf-like creature that had become his best friend, and who would accompany him to the end, hence he was not afraid. It reminded me of Anubis, the ancient Egyptian jackal dog, who was a guide to the afterlife.


Anubis was a jackal-headed ancient Egyptian god of the dead and of the transition between life and death. He was both the ruler of the dead in the underworld and the judge who determined the lot of the deceased in the afterlife. (Vector image of Anubis below by Jeff Dah)

I show you this, although it is spooky, because this is how it can become to the person.
Social Media and the Internet
Depression in young children is increasingly linked to social media and internet overuse. Teenagers who are addicted to the Internet are more likely to develop depression or other psychiatric problems than teens who are classified as normal Internet users.
Below is a research article; I have copied the results and the discussion quite extensively, as it speaks volumes:
From Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences 2016; 70: 405412.
“Internet addiction: Prevalence and relation with mental
states in adolescents” 
Mental state of children with Internet addiction

The mean total score of the GHQ (General health Questionnaire)was 4.3 ± 4.6 in the non‐addicted, 8.8 ± 6.0 in the possibly addicted, and 12.9 ± 7.4 in the addicted groups (Table 2). The total score of the GHQ differed significantly between the three groups. Post‐hoc analyses revealed that Suicidal Depression scores significantly differed among all three groups. The General Illness, Somatic Symptoms, Sleep Disturbance, Social Dysfunction, and Anxiety and Dysphoria scores significantly differed between the non‐addicted and possibly addicted and between the non‐addicted and addicted groups.

The most important issue in Internet addiction in adolescents is associated with the deterioration of mental states related to Internet addiction. The present study revealed that students with Internet addiction experienced more severe mental states. The addicted and possibly addicted groups showed more disturbed mental states than the non‐addicted group in all subscales of the GHQ. In particular, the addicted group had more severe depression and suicidal ideation than the other groups. The relatively high IAT (Internet Addiction Test) scores in the possibly addicted group were positively correlated with depression and suicidal ideation.2On the other hand, the percentage of subjects within the pathological range was greater in the possibly addicted group than in the non‐addicted group. These findings indicate the necessity of paying attention not only to addicted but also to possibly addicted adolescents. Previous studies reported that symptoms of Internet addiction were comorbid with psychiatric conditions, including suicidality and depressive symptoms,8 and that adolescents with problematic Internet use experienced a higher incidence of depression at 9 months’ follow‐up compared to other adolescents.23 Intervention of Internet addiction may be beneficial in the treatment of psychiatric disorders associated with Internet addiction.24 The findings of the present study suggest that Internet addiction contributes to depression. It remains unknown which adolescents might be good candidates for intervention that could prevent comorbid mental problems associated with Internet addiction. It is necessary to prevent Internet addiction in order to attenuate these detrimental effects on the mental health of adolescents.

Finally, we need to determine an effective target of intervention in terms of electronic devices. We suggest that accessibility to smartphones is one of the most important factors in Internet addiction. Smartphones are very convenient as they can be used while lying in bed to surf the Internet or watch videos. The superior handiness and light weight of smartphones as compared with other electronic devices (such as laptop computers) makes them particularly attractive.  In the present study, 38.8% of male and 46.2% of female junior high school students owned a smartphone. Moreover, the duration, rather than the first‐time usage of smartphones, is significantly associated with Internet addiction in early teens. In order to prevent Internet addiction, health‐care professionals, school administrators, and parents should be aware of this finding. In addition, the mental health education curriculum for junior high school students should consider proper use of the Internet, and how misuse of the Internet might affect students’ mental health.


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