BOISE – Childhood suicide, it’s a sobering topic. KTVB recently learned about a child in Payette who committed suicide at the young age of six.
Normally KTVB has a policy as a station not to report on suicides because over 50 worldwide studies have found that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable people. However, this case is unique due to the boy’s age.
This is a difficult topic to address, but it's one, that if addressed, can hopefully save lives.
In kids ages 10 to 14, suicide is in one the top five leading causes of death. But for younger children, especially six year olds, there really aren't any statistics available.
KTVB spoke to the mother of the young boy, as well as police. They say there could be a number of things that led to his death.
KTVB also spoke with a licensed professional counselor about what parents should know so they can address troubling signs early.
Robin Harviel with Warm Springs Counseling Center says those signs, both verbal and non-verbal can be a warning.
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Looking and being sad
- Acting out
- Kicking things
- Bashing toys together
Kids typically do those kinds of things, but Harviel says it's when these behaviors are combined - and continue to get worse that you should think about seeking help.
"You just have to know your child and know when the behavior begins to change in a negative way," said Harviel.
Something else Harviel says, talk to your kids.
"It's okay to have a frank conversation about it and to talk to your child about it,” Harviel says. “It doesn't put the thoughts there, sometimes the thoughts are already there and it's just good to be able to get it out into the open, 'Oh, my parents aren't afraid of me saying these things, it's okay for me to talk about it.' Let them know that you're available for those kinds of discussions."
The reality is, many, if not most kids that age don't completely comprehend the finality of death. That's why, Harviel says, research shows it's better to have it in the open than to not talk about it, because statistics show one in three kids has had some sort of thought about suicide.
If someone you know needs help one place to start is the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline. The number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
For more resources on suicide prevention, click here or here.