Depression Suicide Suicidal Thoughts in Children By Lauren DiMaria Lauren DiMaria LinkedIn Lauren DiMaria is a member of the Society of Clinical Research Associates and childhood psychology expert. Learn about our editorial process Updated on May 21, 2022 Medically reviewed Verywell Mind articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and mental healthcare professionals. Medical Reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more. by Aron Janssen, MD Medically reviewed by Aron Janssen, MD LinkedIn Aron Janssen, MD is board certified in child, adolescent, and adult psychiatry and is the vice chair of child and adolescent psychiatry Northwestern University. Learn about our Medical Review Board Print Blend Images - KidStock / Getty Images Table of Contents View All Table of Contents Age Depression Warning Signs Risk Factors Helping Your Child When to Get Immediate Help Information presented in this article may be triggering to some people. If you are having suicidal thoughts, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 988 for support and assistance from a trained counselor. If you or a loved one are in immediate danger, call 911. For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database. Knowing youth suicide facts is especially important for parents of children with depression. For parents, suicidal thoughts and behaviors are one of the most alarming concerns of childhood depression. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), death by suicide is the third leading cause of death among 10- to 24-year-olds, and many more children attempt but do not complete suicide. Is Suicide Genetic? Age and Suicidal Thoughts The CDC reports that suicide rates in America reached their highest in 50 years in 2018, before declining in 2019 and 2020. Youth and young adults between the ages 10 to 24 had a suicide rate of 14%. According to the CDC, in 2020, suicide rates were for different age groups were: Girls ages 10 to 14 (2.01 per 100,000)Girls ages 15 to 24 (5.78 per 100,000)Boys ages 10 to 14 (3.56 per 100,000)Boys ages 15 to 24 (22.36 per 100,000) A 2018 study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that the suicide rate among Black children under 13 years is double the rate for white children in the same age group. This accounts for both girls and boys. While suicide in very young children is less-researched, evidence suggests that suicidal thinking can emerge as early as age nine. One study found that 2.4% to 6.2% of 9- and 10-year-olds reported having suicidal thoughts, with 0.9% of children in that age group attempting suicide. However, among 9- and 10-year-olds, suicide remains relatively rare. According to mortality statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 45 suicides among children under the age of 10 in 2020. Typically, rates of suicide increase with age, peaking in late adolescence. Girls more often attempt suicide, but boys more frequently follow through to completion. Suicidal Thoughts and Depression According to one study, suicidal thoughts are linked to a worse course of depression, the symptoms of which include earlier onset, longer duration, and shorter intervals of remission. It's important to know that not all depressed children will have suicidal thoughts or show suicidal behavior. In fact, it's one of the least common symptoms of childhood depression. Also, not all children with suicidal thoughts and behavior are depressed. Perhaps the most comforting to know, not all children who have suicidal thoughts will attempt suicide. However, it's a good predictor for future attempts, and these children always need to be evaluated by a professional. Press Play to Learn More About Suicide & Suicidal Ideation Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast, featuring psychiatrist Mark Goulston, shares why people have suicidal thoughts, why you shouldn't blame yourself if you've lost someone to suicide, and what to do if you are having suicidal thoughts. Click below to listen now. Follow Now : Apple Podcasts / Spotify / Google Podcasts Warning Signs of Suicide Some important warning signs of suicidal behavior in children are: Aggressive or hostile behaviorAnxiety or restlessnessA change in personality (from upbeat to quiet)Declining interest in friends, activities, or hobbies previously enjoyedExpressions of hopelessness about the future, like "You won't have to worry about me anymore"Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, or self-hatredFrequent statements or social media posts about self-harm or suicide, like "I wish I were dead"Giving away things of importanceNeglecting personal appearance or groomingPreoccupation with death in conversation, writing, or drawingReckless or risk-taking behavior (such as substance use, reckless driving, and sexual promiscuity)Running away from homeSleep, appetite, or energy changesWithdrawal from friends and family Risk Factors for Suicide It's not always easy to detect the risk factors that may contribute to a child's risk of suicidal thoughts and behavior. However, recognizing them and getting help can be life-saving. A family history of suicide, depression, or other mental illness History of physical or emotional abuse Loss of a close family member, friend, or classmate by suicide or other sudden death Previous history of depression or other mental health illness Previous suicide attempts Threats, bullying, or violence from peers If you think that your child or someone you care about has some of these factors, consider setting up an appointment with a mental health professional for a suicide-risk assessment. If the adolescent is high-risk, you may need to schedule these assessments on a regular basis, How to Help Your Child Here are some strategies to help your child if you think they are having suicidal thoughts: Be aware. While rare in young children, suicide is possible. Know the warning signs and risk factors that may increase your child's risk of suicide. Get your child treatment. If your child is depressed or at high risk for depression or another mental illness, it's essential to get them treatment. Keep weapons locked up. Keep weapons, medications, alcohol, and poisons safely away from children, but this is especially important for children at risk of suicide. Talk to your child. Talking about suicide will not give your child the idea to attempt suicide. If a friend or other loved one has died, committed suicide, or is extremely ill, talk to your child about it and address their feelings. Tell others. If your child exhibits suicidal thoughts or behaviors, tell their other caretakers and faculty members at school so they can closely monitor your child when you're not around. Be supportive. Research has found that parental support can help decrease the risk of suicidal thoughts in children. When to Get Immediate Help It's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your child's well-being. If you think that your child is in crisis and that they have had a previous suicide attempt, is threatening to harm themselves, or you just have a "gut feeling," get your child help immediately. Don't wait. If needed, take your child to a pediatric emergency room. Do not leave them alone. Remove anything in the house they can possibly use to hurt themselves. A Word From Verywell Having a child who is depressed or is suicidal does not make you a bad parent or mean that you did anything to cause their pain. The best thing you can do is to get your child help and support them in their recovery. The 7 Best Online Therapy Programs for Kids 9 Sources Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Disparities in suicide. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Fatal injury reports, national, regional and state, 1981-2020. Bridge JA, Horowitz LM, Fontanella CA, et al. Age-related racial disparity in suicide rates among us youths from 2001 through 2015. JAMA Pediatr. 2018;172(7):697. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2018.0399 DeVille DC, Whalen D, Breslin FJ, et al. Prevalence and family-related factors associated with suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and self-injury in children aged 9 to 10 years. JAMA Netw Open. 2020;3(2):e1920956. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2019.20956 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Underlying cause of death, 1999-2020 results: Deaths occurring through 2020. American Association of Suicidology. Warning signs. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Suicide. Society for the Prevention of Teen Suicide. Talking to your kid about suicide. Kang BH, Kang JH, Park HA, et al. The mediating role of parental support in the relationship between life stress and suicidal ideation among middle school students. Korean J Fam Med. 2017;38(4):213-219. doi:10.4082/kjfm.2017.38.4.213 By Lauren DiMaria Lauren DiMaria is a member of the Society of Clinical Research Associates and childhood psychology expert. See Our Editorial Process Meet Our Review Board Share Feedback Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! What is your feedback? Other Helpful Report an Error Submit Speak to a Therapist for Depression Advertiser Disclosure × The offers that appear in this table are from partnerships from which Verywell Mind receives compensation.