CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) — Most adults struggle to understand why a young child would commit suicide.
The apparent suicide last week of a 4th grader from Orchard Knob Elementary school, has the community focused on the issue.
According to the CDC, the suicide rate for children aged 10-14 tripled from 2007 to 2017. In Tennessee, there were 51 suicides by children 10 to 17 in 2017 alone.
The big question on everyone’s mind about child suicide, is why?
According to a piece on youth suicide, written by State Representative Robin Smith, for the Patriot Post, a conservative website, it’s partially because of negative messages coming from the political left.
“My premise was, these last two, three generations of kids have been so exposed to an onslaught of opinion that’s just not healthy, saying that the earth is being destroyed, that, we’re – and even the CDC referenced ‘deaths of despair’,” said Tennessee State Representative Robin Smith.
But Eve Nite, Vice Chair for the State Advisory Council for Suicide Prevention says there is no one cause that’s been identified.
“There’s lots of researchers trying to do that, there’s lots of research coming in from the most prestigious institutes, looking at – why exactly have we seen this increase and overwhelmingly what they find is that you can’t just point at one thing and say, ‘Well, it’s because of this’,” said Eve Nite, Vice Chair of the Tennessee Advisory Council for Suicide Prevention.
And, Nite says, she thinks it would be far more helpful to focus efforts on saving those who can be saved, than looking for causes, or finger pointing.
Ms. Nite said, “Nothing gets better if we waste all of our time arguing about that. I think that the message that we should have for our community is, how can we go to the evidence based practices that we see other communities using and where they see positive change, and how can we utilize and integrate those practices into what we do at home at school, in our medical facilities and in our community?”
The group with the highest rate of suicides—-by far—, is middle aged white males.The rate for youth suicide, however, is the fastest rising rate of all age groups.
“In fact the second leading cause of death for people aged 10 to 34 is suicide,” said Ms. Nite.