Mental health problems in childhood may predict suicide in boys

April 7th, 2009 - 4:54 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Apr 7 (ANI): Children as young as eight who suffer from mental problems are more likely to contemplate or attempt suicide in later life, finds a new study.

While studying 5,302 Finnish individuals born in 1981, the researchers found that most males who commit suicide or need hospital care for suicide attempts during their teen or early adult years appear to have high levels of psychiatric problems at age 8.

The rates of mortality [death] by suicide have been found to be high among those with medically serious suicide attempts. For effective prevention, knowledge of the key risk factors for suicide is essential.

Dr Andre Sourander, of Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland collected information about psychiatric conditions, school performance and family demographics.

The team found that between ages 8 and 24, 40 participants died, including 24 males and 16 females. Of those, 13 males and two females died from suicide.

A total of 54 males and females (1 percent) either completed suicide or made a suicide attempt serious enough to result in hospitalization.

Of the 27 males who either seriously attempted or completed suicide, 78 percent screened positive for psychiatric conditions at age 8, compared with 11 percent of 27 females.

In addition, males who would go on to make life-threatening or completed suicide attempts were more likely at age 8 to live in a family that did not consist of two biological parents, have psychological problems or have conduct, hyperactive or emotional problems.

“The main finding of our study is that severe suicidality in adolescence and early adulthood has different childhood trajectories among males and females,” the authors write.

“The present study shows that among males severe suicidality (i.e., completed suicide or serious, life-threatening attempts) shows a pathway of persistence throughout the life cycle, starting in early childhood.

“Four out of five of these males showed a high level of psychiatric symptoms at the age of 8 years,” they added. (ANI)

The study appears in Archives of General Psychiatry. (ANI)

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