Suicide in Primary school children

In a previous blog, I wrote that I could do a whole blog on suicide.  Little did I know that I would write a follow-up. In the past two weeks, two grade 7 boys have committed suicide in my region: Both boys attended caring schools, with committed headmasters and teachers, good governance, and proper anti-bullying systems in place. What is happening?

The one factor that I did not expand on in my previous blog, is the hypnotic pull of suicide, and the addictiveness of it, once one starts to engage with it. Even writing about it, I was careful, as once one starts researching it, it can become fascinating, getting one in its grip, and not wanting to let go. It is like the sirens calling, like the snake in the deep waters, seducing young maidens, and then pulling them into a watery grave. In therapy it appears as a puppet master, manipulating everyone in its field, or like an animal, often dog or wolf-like. It can become a presence in the child’s mind, “the only one who understands”, beckoning them ever closer. This is why it is vital to ask children with depression whether they have a voice or a beckoning figure in their minds. It is a surprisingly common phenomenon.

The second factor, as vital, is the influence of social media. The link between time spent on social media and depression is becoming increasingly clear. Take a look at this study: “The suggested association between social media use (SMU) and depression may be explained by the emerging maladaptive use pattern known as problematic social media use (PSMU), characterized by addictive components. Results: PSMU was strongly and independently associated with increased depressive symptoms in this nationally-representative sample of young adults. “(https://www.academia.edu/37254178/Problematic_social_media_use_and_depressive_symptoms_among_U.S._young_adults_A_nationally-representative_study).

Young boys seem to be especially vulnerable to internet addiction.

“Recent studies have shown that overuse of most media (Internet, video games, mobile phones) may play a role in the increased incidence of depression and social anxiety in the adolescent population”(https://www.psychiatryadvisor.com/childadolescent-psychiatry/psychiatric-impacts-of-video-games-internet-addiction-on-children/article/396984/2/).

Persons who commit suicide typically have spent time on the internet researching the topic, reading about it, and watching videos.

I am not saying that the two boys who committed suicide, were addicted to the internet. I have no knowledge of the personal circumstances of these two boys. Young people can act impulsively and copycat their peers. Young people generally do not understand the long-term repercussions of their acts.   Feelings of loneliness and despair will have played a central role.  As would have our old, familiar enemy: Not Talking About. 

About our culture and the times that we live in:
Here is the wishlist of a young boy who committed suicide (from the New Yorker Magazine, 11 April 2022)  This child had been rebellious and difficult for many years. A rebellious child is an unhappy child with unhappy family circumstances. Punishing, or expelling such a child from school feeds their despair, “nobody gets it, nobody understands, the fault lies with me, I am bad, nothing will ever change for the better”
The list breaks my heart. It is all “stuff”. Empty of warmth and meaning and deep connection.
Screenshot 2022-09-07 at 16.35.20

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