Suicide is the third leading cause of death among adolescents world wide. TODAY 6 children will commit suicide due to child abuse.
In Los Angeles, a 9 year old foster child hung himself while taking psychotropic medications that were not FDA approved for children . His mother that lost him to foster care had allegations of abuse that were never substantiated. She did, however, get a jail term on a marijuana case.
When the pain exceeds the ability to cope..
Researchers explain that suicides are caused by social and emotional conditions rather than a mentaldisease . Furthermore it is often associated with hundreds of suicides & suicide attempts .
” Researchers discovered attention problems & aggressive or delinquent behavior in 40 per cent of children aged five to 17 who were in home-based foster care,up to eight times more than in the general school -age population ” (Gough 2007 ).
Though the statistics vary extensively, it is generally believed that some 18% of patients with psychological problems finally do kill themselves, & illnesses may be associated with approximately 50 percent of all suicides (Youth Suicide Fact Sheet 2009 ).
Browne (2002) states that children in single family foster homes are more apt to commit suicides because of emotional & financial reasons.
Abrupt emotional trauma or upset doesn’t always cause suicidal ideals, there is believed to be an inherited factor involved in the kind of major depression that leads to suicide.
If a person has such a chemical makeup, the ordinary hurtful life events that make many of us mildly depressed can perhaps touch off a major clinical psychological distress.
” Severely depressed teenagers who attempted suicide while they investigate participants in one study of psychological distress excreted radically increased
amounts of this hormone in their urine just before they tried to kill themselves” (Browne 2002, p. 22).
Then, half of another group of depressed teens in the study — all with suicidal signs — researchers found to have high levels in the amounts of hormone found in their blood; more important, three patients who succeeded in killing themselves, and two who nearly did so, had high levels of the hormone prior to suicide or attempted suicide .
Single family foster homes are dangerous to these teenagers because they feel alone & insecure in those “families”. That can lead to social isolation, withdrawal from others, & suicidal thoughts &feelings .then they keep to themselves, & brew on dying.deep inside…& instead of reaching out for help or talking to someone they trust, they trust no one.
They tell no one. .. until they write their note ..thats when its apparent how desperate they felt, but its too late by that time to save them. Ironically their goal in committing suicide was to end their suffering & pain, but by ending their life, they are not alive to feel their pain cease. So the only feeling they will realize is their desperation & suffering that’s causing them to be suicidal. The relief does not come…
Their relief is only possible if there is someone who notices the signs of suicide beforehand who will get them help…
Those who work with foster kids about to “age out” should take particular notice to possible suicidal signs in teens. The “aging out” of foster care happens at the age of 18 for approximately 20,000 youth annually … suicide is rampant among these teens.
The number of those “aging out” of foster care was increasing and studies were consistently showing that these “aged out” children had serious adjustment problems transitioning to adulthood:
38% had emotional problems,50% used drugs, 48% did not have a high school education, & 25% had prior involvement with legal system.
They are the most likely candidates for homelessness, unemployment, and.incarceration.
It is estimated that 60% or more of the prison populations were abused as children and/or were ex-foster children and up to 60% of teens who “aged out” have experienced homelessness.
70% to 75% end up in prostitution, on drugs or dealing drugs.
With a future not so bright, many of them just kill themselves.
They don’t know what else to do.
They are scared.
They feel alone.
The same people ..the same system who intrusively took them from their homes, kept them, controlled them, changed them, damaged them, now abandon them at age 18.
They don’t stick around like families do to turn to in hard times. The system forgets about them once they “age out” and their families no longer exist, thanks to the system.
They are alone.
While suicide is the third leading cause of death for youth, suicide deaths are often preventable. Preventing suicidal behavior in youth involves a diverse range of interventions including effective treatment of those with mental illness and substance abuse, early detection of and support for youth in crisis, promotion of mental health, training in life skills, and reduction of access to the means of suicide.
Many youth in foster care experience trauma and risk factors such as mental illness, substance abuse, and family discord. They are more likely than other youth to think about, attempt, and die by suicide, so it is important to learn about prevention.
Losing a youth to suicide affects a community greatly. Aside from the devastating loss of a young person’s future and potential contributions to society, the bereaved families and friends are at higher risk for suicide themselves.
In 2009, 4,630 youth aged 10 to 24 died by suicide.
Studies have found that youth involved in child welfare or juvenile justice were 3 to 5 times more likely to die by suicide than youth in the general population (Farand, 2004; Thompson, 1995).
A large-scale study in Sweden found more than twice the relative risk for suicide among alumni of long-term foster care compared to peers after adjusting for risk factors (Hjern et al., 2004).
One of the strongest predictors for suicide deaths is a suicide attempt. Among high school students 6.3 percent reported having attempted suicide one or more times in the previous 12 months (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).
Attempts point to a youth who in unbearable distress. As a result, foster parents and caregivers of youth who attempt suicide need to pay attention and follow up with them. Adolescents who had been in foster care were nearly four times more likely to have attempted suicide than other youth (Pilowsky & Wu, 2006).
Experiencing childhood abuse or trauma increased the risk of attempted suicide 2- to 5-fold (Dube et al., 2001).
Adverse childhood experiences play a major role in suicide attempts. One study found that approximately two thirds of suicide attempts may be attributable to abusive or traumatic childhood experiences (Dube et al., 2001).
Thoughts about taking one’s life range from passing thoughts to constant thoughts, from passive wishes to be dead to active planning for making a suicide attempt.
Among high school students 13.8 percent reported having seriously considered attempting suicide in the previous 12 months (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2010).
Youth considering attempting suicide have significant mental health needs. Families of and caregivers for youth in foster care can help to reduce some risk factors, and support and advocate for services to build protective factors.
Other factors can’t be changed, but are important to address.
Mental illness including substance abuse
Prior suicide attempt
Abuse and neglect
Parental mental illness and substance abuse
Family conflict and dysfunction
Family history of suicidal behavior
Poor coping skills
Social/interpersonal isolation/alienation Exposure to suicides and attempts
Suicide means availability/firearm in household
Violence and victimization
Being bullied, bullying
Psychological or emotional well-being Family connectedness
Safe school,school connectedness
Connectedness, support, communication with parents
Frequent, vigorous physical activity, sports Reduced access to alcohol, firearms, medications
For foster parents:
Contact your state suicide prevention coalition to find suicide prevention training, resources, and conferences.
To find your state suicide prevention coalition see http://www.sprc.org/states .
Being depressed is not a normal part of adolescence. If a youth seems especially sad or stops his or her usual activities, get help. For most youth in foster care, trauma-focused therapy is critical. The foster family may need to help their youth through stress reactions and to manage triggers.
Find our more at the National Child Traumatic Stress Network at http://www.nctsn.org/
You CAN help prevent suicide.