Suicide can be a hard subject to talk about. It’s the third leading cause of death for young people between the ages of 15-24 according to the U.S. Center for Disease Control. A recent study reveals there is a growing number of children, ages 5 to 11, killing themselves specifically Black children.
Instances of children ending their lives or trying to, before they even hit their teenage years are very rare but the reality of the situation can be unsettling.
Shanna Dickens, lead therapist at Wilmington Health Access for Teens, says though uncommon preadolescences are capable of taking their own lives.
“It is something that does happen in that age group and it’s a concern,” said Dickens. “If you think about someone that is much younger they don’t have the same amount of coping skills that we have. And they also don’t have the same amount of language. They don’t necessarily have the words to explain ‘this is how I’m feeling.’”
A recent study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Pediatrics) shows that there is a rising number of African American children that are dealing with just that. The study looked at statistics for children between the ages of 5 and 11 from 1993 to 2012. In this time period there were 657 child suicides. Researchers found that while the overall suicide rate among this age group remained consistent, but the rate almost doubled for Black children. The rates among Black children rose from 1.36 to 2.54 per 1 million. White kids’ rates declined from 1.14 to 0.77 per 1 million. Experts say suicide rates have historically been higher among white individuals across all age groups.
Even though these numbers are small compared to the millions of children in the U.S. The study is troubling for those who work with youth on a daily basis. Wilmington tennis legend and coach Lenny Simpson says this is a topic that needs to be addressed.