1104 GMT April 05, 2020
About 8.4 percent of children aged nine or 10 said they'd temporarily or regularly harbored thoughts of suicide, researchers report.
According to UPI, importantly, only around one percent of children that age reported a suicide attempt or planning their suicide.
But suicidal thoughts at that age are a warning sign of a future filled with woe, said senior researcher Dr. Sophia Frangou, a professor of psychiatry with the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, in New York City.
"When you think of how young they are, eight percent is quite a startling number," Frangou said. "Thinking of killing yourself, and that life isn't worth it, when you're nine is pretty extreme."
Suicide is the second leading cause of death among 10- to 14-year-olds, researchers said in background notes, and these sorts of thoughts paint a picture of a troubled childhood.
"Being so seriously unhappy so early in life is a sign of vulnerability for adverse mental health outcomes in adulthood," Frangou noted. "It's not just about suicide."
For this study, Frangou and her colleagues analyzed data from the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development study, which is tracking the growth and health of nearly 12,000 children across the United States.
Children and their caregivers filled out reports that included questions related to suicidal thoughts and behaviors.
Two factors played a strong role in whether a child would have suicidal thoughts, the research team found.
"Children that have some sort of psychological problems, even minor ones, and the ones that live in families that are in some way dysfunctional, those are the ones that are at the highest risk to have suicidal thoughts," Frangou said.
Kids suffering from anxiety, depression or other psychological or behavior problems are 74 percent more likely to experience suicidal thoughts, results show.
And children who reported family conflict were 30 percent to 75 percent more likely to harbor thoughts of suicide, even after accounting for their psychological problems, the researchers said.
The findings were published online in The Lancet Psychiatry medical journal.