Myths About Childhood Suicide (page 2)
All of these myths (and more) have been uttered about childhood suicide. How many of them have you heard? Can you add any others to the list? Do you believe any of them?
MYTH: Childhood is a relatively carefree time in a person's life.
FACT: Research tells us that children experience extreme stress and have symptoms similar to those of adults. However, unlike adults, children do not have the skills to manage their stress in appropriate ways.
MYTH: Children do not get depressed.
FACT: All children "feel blue" from time to time or have a bad day. In some cases, however, children meet criteria for clinical depression. Approximately 1 in 33 children (and 1 in 5 adolescents) meet criteria for depression.
MYTH: Children do not understand the finality of death.
FACT: It is hard to know what children understand and when they understand it. There is, however, growing evidence that children as young as elementary school age understand the finality of death.
MYTH: Children are always resilient.
FACT: Although we want to raise resilient children and there are resources to help foster resiliency, not all children (or adults) have the ability to "bounce back" after stressors in their lives. Challenges such as poverty, divorce, illness, or trauma can seriously affect resiliency and can lessen children's ability to face additional stressors, in their lives.
MYTH: Most children's stressors and problems are minor in comparison to adult problems and are not serious enough to place the child at risk for suicide.
FACT: All of the developmental literature agrees that problems and stressors are relative: that is, they may be very acute and severe to a young person, who does not have the life experiences and cognitive abilities to put them into perspective. Adults should never minimize or ridicule the stressors of a young person who feels suicidal and overwhelmed.
MYTH: Children do not feel loss as acutely as adults do.
FACT: For children, loss and fear go band in hand. Children often have very little control over the logistics of their lives, and adults control the context and the shape of children's relationships. When adults move, separate, divorce, or otherwise disrupt children's relationships, it is often done after adults have had time to adjust to the impending transition. When the children are informed, they often have less time—and fewer coping skills—to adjust. When losses occur, children may be afraid; they don't mow what will happen to them, and this fear intensifies and complicates all of the other emotions that are typically associated with loss.
MYTH: Children do not commit suicide. Most deaths that have been ruled as suicides are really just accidents.
FACT: The information in this chapter challenges this myth. It is difficult to know when children understand suicide and how they decide to take their own lives, but all available research leads us to believe that the opposite of this myth is true: that many deaths that are ruled to be accidents may actually be suicides.
© ______ 2007, Merrill, an imprint of Pearson Education Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The reproduction, duplication, or distribution of this material by any means including but not limited to email and blogs is strictly prohibited without the explicit permission of the publisher.
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