December 01, 2011
Suicide Rates Start Rising In 6th Grade

Mental depression is a terrible thing.

In a study published in the November issue of the Journal of Adolescent Health, nearly 40 percent of young adults who said they had tried suicide said that they made their first attempt before entering high school.

One lesson here: Parents especially shouldn't be complacent about the mental health of their kids before high school. If Johnnie or Jill seems depressed in 7th grade take note. Is there a good way to measure risk of suicide to identify higher risk cases?

The researchers also found that suicide attempts during childhood and adolescence were linked to higher scores of depression at the time of the attempts, validating for the first time that young adults can reliably recall when they first attempted suicide.

Near the end of their teen years nearly 9% had attempted suicide.

As part of an ongoing survey, Mazza and his collaborators asked 883 young adults aged 18 or 19 about their history of suicide attempts. Seventy-eight respondents, nearly 9 percent, said that they had tried suicide at some point.

5th grade sounds like it is the end of low worry childhood and 6th grade the beginning of unhappy adulthood.

Suicide attempt rates showed a sharp increase around sixth grade, about age 12, with rates peaking around eighth or ninth grade. For the 39 respondents reporting multiple suicide attempts, their first attempt was significantly earlier as young as 9 than those making a single attempt.

How many of the depressed 12 and 14 year olds remain depressed in adulthood? That a life of depression can start at a pre-teen age is a depressing thought.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2011 December 01 08:16 PM  Brain Depression

PacRim Jim said at December 2, 2011 12:13 AM:

It used to be where everyone around you was like you.
Now, with the Internet and TV, you see how the richest and most attractive live.
The contrast would depress young people, because they lack the realization that life is tough for everyone.

lhf said at December 2, 2011 5:26 AM:


Data were retrieved from 883 participants in the Raising Healthy Children project, a longitudinal study of youth recruited from a Pacific Northwest school district. The retrospective measure was collected when participants were 1819 years of age and results were compared with measures of depressive symptoms collected prospectively."

Social science research is remarkably thin and conclusions are often drawn that are not justified by the data. I would like to know how these kids were "recruited" before I gave this study any credibility. 9% attempting suicide to me seems high and it would be important to rule out pecuniary interest (funding for more intervention programs) on the part of the people who conducted the study.

Moreover, in my experience working with adolescents, they love to exaggerate and dramatize. Many will admit this in an honest conversation.

I wasn't willing to pay the $30 to read the report.

Michael L said at December 4, 2011 1:15 PM:

perhaps 9% did not so much "attempt" it as "thought about it". Whereas the 91% were either to dumb for such speculations or else too smart to confess - smart indeed, given the madness of zero tolerance and the drive of the therapeutic state to "diagnose", "cure", medicate and otherwise control anything that moves.

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