Some Features Of Children/Adolescents

These features of children/adolescents/youth are to be considered along with risk factors.

  • Impulsivity, catastrophising life events, susceptibility to shame and what others think of them.
  • Self-harming behavior
  • Previous suicidal behaviour.
  • May now be engaging in risk taking behaviour or exhibit multiple “accident prone” incidents
  • Prone to handle bad feelings with alcohol, cannabis and other drugs
  • Less experience of working through things or of things working out
  • Harder for them to access help
  • Likely to know another who has done it
  • Being bullied; a target of rumouring; experiencing physical, emotional or sexual abuse; family conflict
  • Striving towards independence
  • Homelessness; Thrownaway (abandoned by parents or guardian)
  • In care or with a foster family
  • Change in social values and pessimism in society; experiencing social isolation
  • Gender identity issues
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
  • Academic or disciplinary problems at school
  • Major transitioning events e.g. primary to high school, high school to university or TAFE, from education to workplace 
  • A sense of failure at training place or university
  • A sense of failure in relationships
  • Lack of care about clothes and appearance, sudden change in weight
  • Changes in emotions and behaviour (depression, anxiety, severe anger, aggressiveness)
  • Withdrawal from friends and social activities
  • Experiencing racial discrimination because of skin colour, ethnic origin or religion.

 What children and young people with suicidal thoughts tell us about their situation

  1. They have a sense of having no control over things happening in their lives.
  2. They feel under pressure.
  3. There has been a break-up of important relationships.
  4. They want to escape from depression.
  5. There is escalating family conflict.
  6. They don’t know how to deal with being cyberbullied and feel rejected by friends or other people.

The suicide attempt may signal not so much a wish to die as a wish for the hurting to stop. 

[1] Soole, R., Kolves, K., & De Leo, D. (2015). Suicide in children: A systematic review. Archives of Suicide Research, 19(3), 285 – 304. doi: 10.1080/13811118.2014.996694.

[2] Soole R., Kolves K., De Leo, D. (2014) Factors related to childhood suicides: analysis of the Queensland Child Death Register. Crisis 35(5):292–300. doi:10.1027/0227-5910/a000267.

[3] Evans, R., White, J., Turley, R., Slater, T., Morgan, H., Strange, H., & Scourfield, J. (2017). Comparison of suicidal ideation, suicide attempt and suicide in children and young people in care and non-care populations: Systematic review and meta-analysis of prevalence. Children and Youth Services Review, 82, 122-129.

[4] Westefeld, J.S., Bell, A., Bermingham, C., Button, C., Shaw, K., Skow, C., Stinson, R.D., & Woods, T. (2010). Suicide among preadolescents: A call to action. Journal of Loss and Trauma, 15, 381 – 407.

[5] Skerrett, D.M., Kolves, K., & De Leo, D. (2017). Pathways to suicide in lesbian and gay populations in Australia: A life chart analysis. Archives of Sexual Behaviour, 46, 1481 – 1489.

[6] Balazs, J., & Kereszteny, A. (2017). Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and suicide: A systematic review. World Journal of Psychiatry, 7(1), 44 – 59.

[7] Van Geel, M., Vedder, P., & Tanilon, J. (2014). Relationship between peer victimization, cyberbullying, and suicide in children and adolescents: a meta-analysis. The Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics, 168(5), 435-42.

[8] Markus. A. (2016). Mapping Social Cohesion: The Scanlon Foundation surveys 2017. Melbourne, Australia: Scanlon Foundation. Retrieved from content/uploads/2014/05/ScanlonFoundation_MappingSocialCohesion_2017.pdf

[9] Martin, G. [Editorial]. (2014). On child suicide. Advances in Mental Health, 12(2), 88-92.


Some reasons for attempting suicide

Some reasons given by young people for attempting suicide are indicated as follows in descending order[1]                    

  1. The situation was so unbearable that I had to do something and I didn’t know what else to do.     
  2. I wanted to stop feeling the pain.                                                                                   
  3. I wanted to die.                                                                                                                   
  4. I wanted to escape for a while from an impossible situation.                                   
  5. I wanted to get relief from a terrible state of mind.                                                     
  6. I wanted to show people how desperate I was.                                                            
  7. I seemed to lose my self-control and I don’t know why I did it then.                        
  8. I wanted to make things easier for others.                                                                    
  9. I wanted to try and find out whether someone really loved me.                               
  10. I wanted to get help from someone.                                                                                
  11. I wanted to make people sorry for the way they have treated me.                            
  12. I wanted to show how much I loved someone.                                                              
  13. I wanted to frighten or get my own back on someone.                                
  14. I wanted to try and get someone to change their mind.


Useful contacts for children/adolescents/youth

  • Children of Parents with a Mental Illness
  • FNQ Suicide Prevention Taskforce
  • Headspace (aged 12-25 years) 1800 650 890
  • Kids Help Line (aged 5 – 25 years) Phone: 1800 55 1800 (24 hours)
  • Mental Health in Multicultural Australia (information in English and many other languages)
  • Reach Out
  • ReachOut - Cyberbullying
  • Sane Australia   Phone: 1800 187 263
  • The desk
  • Yellow Ribbon Program
  • Young Adult Health (aged 18-25)
  • Youth Beyond Blue Phone 1300 224 636 (24 hours)

 [1] Kienhorst, I. C. W. M, De Wilde, E. J., Diekstra, R. F. W., & Wolters, W. H. G. (1995). Adolescents’ image of their suicide attempt. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 34(5), 623-628.











1Kienhorst, I. C. W. M, De Wilde, E. J., Diekstra, R. F. W., & Wolters, W. H. G. (1995). Adolescents’ image of their suicide attempt. Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 34(5), 623-628.


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