A study led by UBC psychiatry professor Dr. Sophia Frangou, published on Mar. 12, 2020, found that children with psychological problems, children exposed to family conflict and children who spend more time using digital devices were more likely to report suicidal thoughts. (PxHere)

Study led by B.C. prof finds 8% of school-age children have thought about or attempted suicide

WARNING: This story contains references to suicide and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Eight in 100 school-age children have experienced suicidal ideas and behaviours, according to a landmark study led by a UBC professor.

The study, published on Mar. 12 in the medical journal Lancet Psychiatry, found children with psychological problems and children exposed to family conflict were most likely to report suicidal thoughts.

The likelihood of suicidal ideas, plans and attempts also increased with longer screen-time use, particularly on weekends.

For the study, UBC psychiatry professor Dr. Sophia Frangou led an international research team in analyzing data from the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, which is the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the U.S., comprising 11,875 children aged 9-10 years old.

ALSO READ: Canada’s children have high rates of suicide, child abuse, infant mortality — report

While the “worrying” study used data collected in the U.S., Frangou said it “transcends the boundaries of countries.”

“If you take into account differences across different states and the studies that have been done in Canada, which are smaller,” Frangou said, “when it comes to the most important factors … it’s family function and psychological problems in the children.”

As for screen-time use as a factor for suicidal ideas, plans and attempts, Frangou said “we have to be very careful how one interprets this.”

“It is true that children who spend more time using different digital devices were more likely to have these suicidal thoughts, but we cannot say that this association is causal,” she said. “It’s equally likely that troubled children … they may find refuge and escape in engaging in different games.”

ALSO READ: ‘Time to take action’ — Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

For successful prevention of suicide in school-age children, Frangou said it’s “critically dependent on reducing risk factors while promoting factors that can have a protective effect.”

“The risk and protective factors we identified in this study are particularly useful as they can be addressed here and now, and modified through interventions aimed at identifying and targeting childhood mental health disorders, increasing school engagement, and providing support to families,” she said.

ALSO READ: BC Children’s warns of glamorizing self-harm on World Suicide Prevention Day

Moving forward, Frangou and her research team are using brain imaging to identify brain activity that corresponds with suicidal ideas, plans and attempts in children as well as adolescents.

They also plan to use data from follow-up assessments of the ABCD study to map the trajectories of suicidal ideas, plans and attempts in youth, and examine how these may be influenced by social interactions.

ALSO READ: Doctors aims to scale up youth suicide prevention program across Canada

According to the Canadian federal government and the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death for children and adolescents in Canada and the U.S.

If you feel like you are in crisis or are considering suicide, please call the Crisis Centre BC suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433.

Other resources include: Canada Suicide Prevention Service at Toll free: 1-833-456-4566. You can also text 45645 or visit the online chat service at crisisservicescanada.ca.

Some warning signs include suicidal thoughts, anger, recklessness, mood changes, anxiety, lack of purpose, helplessness and substance abuse.



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

suicide

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Kelowna’s Gospel Mission becomes a 56-bed shelter amid COVID-19 complications

Kelowna’s Gospel Mission outreach team will provide meals to those in need in the community

Kelowna production company keeps filming through COVID-19 pandemic

DCD Productions uses drones so crew can keep their physical distance

Snowfall warning in effect for Coquihalla Highway

Total accumulations of up to 25 cm can be expected by this evening

70-year-old Kelowna man arrested after report of shots fired inside a home

The incident occurred just after 4 p.m. on March 28 in Kelowna

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

UPDATE: Coronavirus concerns prompt event cancellations across the Okanagan

This is a running list of events cancelled across the Okanagan

Clearwater RCMP look for missing Alberta man

Wayne Theriault was last believed to have been seen on March 24

Canadian COVID-19 update: Cases spike in Quebec & Ontario; Nine O’Clock Gun salutes health workers

Comprehensive Canadian news update as of 12:30 p.m., Monday, March 30.

WATCH: Police, fire rally for Vernon hospital workers in COVID-19 fight

Sirens blaring and pots clanging, residents and emergency responders cheer on nurses, doctors

North Okanagan woman helps others apply for EI amid COVID-19

Pandemic has locals retooling skillsets to help others

North Okanagan woman sews masks amid pandemic

Masks offer sense of safety and people need that now, says Becca Hoffmann

COVID-19: No fines to be issued by Vernon bylaw

Officers can provide assistance ‘as may be required for purposes of enforcing public health orders’

One dead, three others injured following stabbing in Kamloops

Police arrested 43-year-old man at 1 a.m. on Sunday

Most Read