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Suicide Statistics for Children as Young as Five? Why?
Steve Stewart, © 2011

Don't you wish this could not true? All at once, you hope it cannot be true, and if it is, you expect that it won't be explainable. But this statistic is both true and explainable. Imagine how terrified, hurt and depleted a child of five years would have to be to reach into his small arsenal of solutions and pull out the one marked "my death."

First, for statistical purpose, age groups have to begin and end somewhere and they are clustered around age units of 10 years - around 10 year olds, 20 year olds, 30, 40 and so on. The ages relevant to the center point of 20 years old range from the ages of 15 to 24; that's 20, roughly + or - five years. Then a next bracket begins at 25, centers on 30 and tops out at 34. Next 35 to 44 for a 40-ish group, etc.

Because there are in fact suicides younger than that 15 year old we just mentioned, and in fact include 10 year olds, the bottom group centered on 10 year olds ranges from ages 5 to 14. In 2011, we have read of the suicides of a 10 year old in Houston and an 11 year old in Ontario, Canada. Recently, we read of a 14 year old girl who jumped with friend - her only friend - from a high bridge to their deaths in Scotland. Afterward, her foster mother found a suicide note the 14 year old she had written and been hiding since she was just eight years old - waiting to gather the courage to die. Eight years old.

There are in fact suicides as young as 5 which are exceedingly rare. If there were none, the bracket would bottom out at 6 or 7 years - wherever the lowest age experience occurs. Five year olds don't understand the act of ending a life. But ending one's own life is not really the object of suicide anyway; ending pain is the object and those with adult reasoning can come to a reasoned conclusion that razors, guns, ropes or pills are acceptable trade-offs to pain. A five year old won't not understand he or she won't wake up tomorrow. They just understand they feel bad and sad and "ending the pain must be the next step.

Children as young as five have no concept of life and death. There are simply mornings, cartoons, cereal, playing, mom, eating, crying and bed time. As I type this, it is early in the Christmas season. Tonight at the grocery store, a beautiful five year old girl in line ahead of me with her father found her world crashing down on her when Daddy said no to a small plastic toy displayed by the check stand. You and I know that the cool toys are found in toy departments, not at impulse purchase height for five year olds for $1.99 at the check stand. But she did not know that. Her disappointment was very real and priced more painfully than $1.99. Wisely, her father did not give in.

Small children know joy and they also know pain. Disappointment physically hurts. It is painful. Five year olds know joy, excitement - and pain. There are also plenty five year olds in the world who know hunger - although they can't see ahead in time by 24 hours, let alone weeks or years. Being hungry and in pain, possibly abused by a punishing adult, can feel as if life will never feel good again - in the mind of a five year old.

Perhaps pointing a toy gun at someone else - or at oneself - feels like a correct expression of anger and pain. But suppose the same small child happened to get hold of the handgun in a night stand drawer? That's why almost every state requires the use of trigger locks on stored and loaded guns. It does not take maturity or full understanding to pull a trigger.

Steve Stewart Seminars | 276 N. El Camino Real #184 | Oceanside CA 92058 | 760-298-8146/Direct 760-216-1353/Cell |