Children aren’t yet capable of long-term thought. Immediacy is the entire world of the child. The leading causes of suicide in children are child abuse by parents and bullying by schoolmates and others. The lack of acceptance of a child is devastating to their developing a sense of who they are. Often a child feels the only way out is through killing themselves. Often the parents are surprised and shocked at the childs death saying they had no idea that the child was unhappy or not accepted at school. Of course if the parent is the abuser of the dead child often they feel the child is to blame because they weren’t able to take a kidding or they were bad kids who just couldn’t take the discipline the child had coming.
I first tried suicide when I was 12. In the early 1950’s child suicide was unheard of. Somehow I found some pills and took them. No one put it together that I had taken pills and they thought my unconsciousness was caused by some physical problem. I was unconscious over a week and when I awoke I was startled to find I was alive. I told the nurse what I had done not realizing that no one knew I had tried to kill myself. My parents sent me to a psychiatrist who thought I was a juvenile delinquent ( the term of that time). He hospitalized me and gave me over twenty shock treatments. He never spoke to me. The nurse took me into the treatment room and would strap me down and the doctor would come in and turn on the shock machine. All that happened was that I became more alienated from the world. No one knew that my father beat me several times a month with his fists or that my mother ridiculed me at every turn. I was the outcast of the family. The sad thing was that no one ever asked if I was abused.
I speak of this not to deride my parents but so that children and hopefully their parents can understand that the child is not the problem. Rather the problem existed within the parents before the children were born. Being the target of abuse makes the child feel worthless. Children assume that if the parent abuses them it is because they deserve it. One response to the parents abuse is suicide. It is an attempt to please the parents by getting rid of their problem, the child herself. Children need someone to tell them that they are not the problem. The parents or the children bullying them at school are the problem.
One good thing came of the my suicidal episode, my father rarely beat me after that. My mother’s and sister’s disdain escalated and I was humiliated daily. I didn’t attempt suicide again until I was 16. Another failure followed by several other attempts. Finally at age 20 several years after leaving home I decided this was going nowhere and that I would never attempt suicide again. I started college and didn’t look back. I put myself through college and graduated with a degree and a career in math. I invited my parents to my graduation and they came. I have spent the last 40 years forgiving them which is a testament to my weakness not their wickedness. They were just doing to me what had been done to them. My father was from a brutal home and my mother was unhappy being my mother. They were atheists and their view of the world was survival of the fittest.
My mother startled me one of the last times I saw her. She had a letter from Billy Graham. When I looked at her she just said I didn’t know anything about her. Indeed. I do hope she is in heaven. That while she would never reconcile with me she reconciled with God. Nothing would make me happier than to greet her in heaven knowing that God had redeemed our whole relationship.