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Question
Posted by: J | 2004/09/21

11 year old: suicidal tendencies?

My 11 year old son has recently, amongst many other problems, been losing/forgetting things.I reprimanded him last night for losing his school jersey for the third time in 2 months. We had a bit of a screaming match and he yelled that he always forgets things because he is a stupid donkey. I left his bedroom for a while until he would calm down.On my return, I found him with a tie strapped around his neck , with the clear intention to hang himself. I was totally stunned and just walked out, without a word.
He is a very good-natured kid, although he lacks a bit of self-esteem. His Dad was killed (hijacked) when he was only 2.5 years old. I have scheduled counselling and appointment for an assessment.
But until then, does my child have suicidal tendencies or was he just trying to get my attention?I did not know what to say to him…this has never happened before.
I am afraid that he will hurt himself.It is a Catch 22 situation, because now I am too afraid to discipline my child for fear that he will retaliate by trying to commit suicide!

Advice please CS and others.

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Our expert says:
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Well, J, children CAN have suicidal thinking, and can attempt and even commit suicide, from a much younger age than most people realize or want to realize. And sometimes when they have lost a parent while young, and while a clear understanding of Death hasn't developed ( OK, none of us are clear about death, but kids may not be altogether convinced thast it's permanent ) some children do have a sort of fantasy of dying so they can join the missing parent somewhere.
So such threats or attempts do have to be taken seriously, and you are right to have aranged for him to get an asessment and counselling. It's unwise to consider this just attention-seeking, as he wasn't sure you'd be coming back in to find him, and it's an awfully desperate way to seek attention.
It does sound as if he has low self-esteem, and maybe you need to chat with him about this, about why he feels like a "stupid donkey", and how much you love him and need him around.
Excellent responses from our other readers, too.

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3
Our users say:
Posted by: Tori | 2004/09/21

You should take this serious. ANY suicidal tendencies should not be taken lightly especially a 11 year old.
You need to take him to see someone.
Your child needs all the love and support in this world.
Maybe also by taking him to the doctor to see whether the doctor can help him with the memory problem.

I wish you the best of luck.

Reply to Tori
Posted by: Beyond Tired | 2004/09/21

Hi J,
Firstly, thanks for your response to my posting, any words are comfort.
It is good that you have scheduled councelling sessions and so on, however don't change your attitude towards your son, however try to turn it into something positive, not a screaming match. My daughter has lost many items as well, also screamed and performed but realised it wasn't helping thus have said she will have to go without whatever she looses as I cannot continue to buy things. She as tiny as she is has saved up for such crises and has stopped loosing things. Children need guidance and love more than anything else and when we are down ourselves it is difficult to respond but I know you will get through this. Speak to him about the hanging episode, I tried to do it when I was 9, nobody took notice and I stopped caring about everything, just swtiched off. Talk to him and give him love, tell him you love him no matter what.

Reply to Beyond Tired
Posted by: blackbird | 2004/09/21

Do NOT EVER take a suicide threat from a 11 year old lightly. He might have done it to schock you, or scare you or to get your attention, or it is a HUGE shout for help. But it could all go wrong and he might die, and that nobody would want to happen.

Get him to a doctor, talk to him, comfort him, whatever it takes within reason to get him away from his suicide thoughts/actions.

He just might be suffering from Depression/Bipolar or something along that line, and with proper medication/couseling he will be able to overcome this and so you.

i was diagnosed at 14 with manic/bipolar also after a atempted suicide, now i'm 41 and still alive, see the medication and stuff helps.

Reply to blackbird

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