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Suicidality in Young Children

Suicidality in young children is a growing concern that must be addressed by parents and or caregivers. It is important that signs of distress in your child are taken seriously, even if it may seem like your child doesn’t understand what they are saying. Studies have shown that suicidal ideation and attempts can occur in children as young as 5 years old. Raising children in the Age of Information means our children now have more exposure to potentially dangerous influences than we may have had. This makes it essential that parents be proactive in addressing these issues as they arise.

How serious is this?
Adults must understand that children who express suicidal thoughts or behaviors are not simply seeking attention. These are serious cries for help and should never be written off as “normal” childhood behavior. Understandably, many young children lack the emotional flexibility and coping skills to handle stress, anxiety, and trauma, which can lead to suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Warning Signs
It is crucial to seek professional help immediately if your child expresses any of the following warning signs for suicidality:
● Irritability
● Increased impulsivity
● Withdrawal from friends and family
● Giving away beloved possessions
● Talk of self-harm or suicide

While your fears may cause you to hesitate or tell you to wait it out, remember that every second counts in preventing suicide. Speak to your child’s pediatrician or a mental health professional who specializes in working with children. If your child is already seeing a therapist, it is important to notify the therapist as soon as possible.

Risk Factors
One of the most important risk factors for suicidality in young children is exposure to trauma. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry found that children who had experienced multiple forms of trauma were at a significantly higher risk for suicidal ideation and attempts than those who had not experienced trauma. Additionally, children who had experienced trauma were more likely to have other mental health conditions, such as OCD or anxiety, that further increased their risk for suicidality.

OCD’s Role in Suicidality
Depending on what they are exposed to, whether through media or life events, children with OCD may experience intrusive thoughts about harm, violence, or death that can become difficult for them to control. These thoughts can be persistent and distressing, leading to feelings of hopelessness, guilt, and shame. As a result, children with OCD may experience suicidal ideation, and in some cases, they may attempt suicide as a way to escape their distress.

In addition to intrusive thoughts, children with OCD may also experience other symptoms, such as excessive worry, avoidance behaviors, and compulsive rituals. These symptoms can interfere with a child’s daily functioning, social interactions, and academic performance, leading to feelings of isolation and low self-esteem as they get older.

Encourage Communication
It is essential to create an open and supportive environment where your child feels comfortable expressing their feelings and concerns. Encourage your child to communicate openly and honestly with you, and listen without judgment or criticism. Validate your child’s emotions and reassure them that they are not alone and that you are there to support them through any challenges they may be facing.

Seeking Support
It is understandable that some parents may be reluctant to seek help, fearing that it could reflect poorly on their parenting or that their child may be stigmatized or labeled. However, the consequences of ignoring suicidal ideation and attempts can be severe. If you are concerned about your child’s safety, prioritize your child’s well-being by consulting a trained mental health professional. There are several resources available for families and communities who are dealing with suicidality in young children, such as the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and the Suicide Prevention Resource Center.

 

We can help you get through this difficult time. Contact Us at https://applepsychological.janeapp.com or call us at 917-526-0766 . An experienced counselor specializing in Child Counseling can help.

DOES MY CHILD NEED COUNSELING?

Raising a child is not easy. Nothing really prepares a person for the hardships of parenting. It is one of those concepts we never truly understand until we are a parent with a child. Because of the stigma around going to a therapist in some cultures, It can be especially difficult to come to the realization our child may need to start counseling.

Children can be dealing with a multitude of events that are affecting them negatively. Some examples of issues children face are bullying, school stress, friend drama, and family stress. Children might be scared or embarrassed to ask for help, so as a parent it is important to look out for signs that your child might need help. If this is the case, and your child is showing signs of distress, please know that as a parent, you are not alone, and that you are doing what is best for your child by acting quickly and getting them the counseling support that they need.

But, how do you know if your child needs counseling? Below is a list of some certain signs to look out for (please note, if there is a sign that is not on the list, reach out to a therapist and get some guidance)

 

11 SIGNS YOUR CHILD NEEDS COUNSELING

1) Difficulty getting along with others or making friends: If you notice your child is suddenly having issues with getting along with peers or seems to be struggling in the area of friendships, it may be time to take action. Friend quarrels and issues are a part of childhood, but isolating behaviors could be a warning sign.

2) Struggling with feelings more so than other children of the same age: If you notice your child is having a harder time with managing emotions and feelings compared to other children of similar age, it may be time to seek out professional help.

3) Change in eating and sleeping habits: If you notice a change in your child’s eating or sleep habits, it may be due to mental health issues relating to anxiety or depression. Certain eating habits could also be early signs of potential eating disorders.

4) Destructive Behavior: If you notice your child engaging in self-destructive behaviors such as self-harm or drug use, it is iminent to talk to a mental health professional. Self-destructive behaviors often occur to numb feelings of anger, guilt, pain, or resentment.

5) Extreme Feelings of Sadness or Worry: If you notice your child seems to be stuck in an anxiety ridden or sadness ridden mood, it is best to talk to a mental health professional. It is also important to note if your child has been crying a lot. This could be an early onset of depression or anxiety.

6) Social Isolation: If you notice your child is suddenly not talking to several of their friends or not hanging out with friends as much, it could be a sign of bullying, depression, or anxiety.

7) Regression: Regression can sometimes occur and be normal (i.e. big changes such as a birth of a new sibling). However, if you notice regression patterns of bedwetting, tantrums, clinginess, it could be time to get some help.

8) Increased physical complaints: Mental health issues such as anxiety can manifest themselves in physical ways through stomach aches and headaches. If you notice your child has increased in physical complaints, it may be time to get help.

9) Bringing up the topic of death frequently: If you notice your child bringing up death constantly, especially in the form of suicide related or self harm topics, it is imminent to get help right away.

10) Stressful situations: If your child is going through a stressful situation like moving or experiencing divorce, it may be possible they do not have the proper and developed coping skills needed for stressful types of situations. Having extra support could be extremely helpful for your child.

11) Changes in Hygiene: If you are starting to notice changes in hygiene behaviors such as brushing their teeth or bathing, this could be a sign your child is experiencing depression or anxiety.

Please send us a quick message if you have any questions.

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We can help you get through this difficult time. Contact Us at https://applepsychological.janeapp.com/ or call us at 917-526-0766 . An experienced counselor specializing in Child Counseling can help.