Suicide rates are rising among children, but bullying not considered the cause

Published: Feb. 13, 2019 at 5:54 PM EST
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There is a spike in suicides among some younger age groups, and experts are asking parents to take preventative actions to help stop the growing problem.

"We know the rates are going up, especially among younger kids."

It's hard to calculate the increase because of different reporting methods, but Dr. Julie Cerel, a suicidologist at the University of Kentucky, told WKYT Investigates researchers are starting to get a better handle on the number.

By next year, all 50 states will use a reporting system to look at trends within communities.

"I think parents who have lost a child to suicide are desperate to figure out how to help a family never be in that horrible situation that they're in," Cerel explained in regard to more people talking about suicide recently.

"We know that kids as young as five can end their lives," she said. "All the time, people ask me about warning signs, and if we knew, this is what will predict if your child is going to die by suicide, of course everyone would know about it. The only way to predict if someone is going to die by suicide is if they have made a suicide attempt."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released data showing a child under the age of 13 was dying from suicide once every 3.4 days from 2013-2015. This is because of a spike in suicides among 11 and 12-year-olds in the past few years. The rates of attempted suicides among ages 12 to 14 have doubled in the past decade.

Many speculate about the potential link between bullying and suicides among young people, but experts haven't seen a correlation.

"Unfortunately, there are lots of kids bullied, and fortunately, very few of those that are bullied end their lives," Cerel said.

Cerel's advice is to talk to your kids about suicide. She said there's no evidence that broaching the topic will somehow give them the idea to take their lives.

She also credits Kentucky for mandating proper training for preventative action.

"One good thing that is happening in Kentucky is we are one of ten states that require mental health clinicians to have training on suicide prevention and intervention."

If you need help, you can receive confidential assistance by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.