Our research on childhood suicidality has been covered by local and national news outlets, including the New York Times!

The New York Times – What to Do if a Young Child Expresses Dark Thoughts

The St. Louis American – Young kids with suicidal thoughts understand concept of death
WUSM study refutes idea that children who talk about suicide don’t understand it

EurekAlert: American Association for the Advancement of Science – Young children who express suicidal ideation understand death better than their peers

Four- to six-year-old children who express suicidal thoughts and behaviors have a better understanding of what it means to die than the majority of their peers, reports a study recently published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (JAACAP).

“It’s an uncomfortable topic to contemplate, and in many ways, I think it’s easier to assume that children don’t really know what they’re saying, and therefore they can’t possibly mean the same things that adults mean when they talk about wanting to die,” said lead author Laura Hennefield, PhD. “Although it remains unclear how to fully assess risk in these circumstances, our findings highlight the need to take children’s expressions of suicidal thoughts and behaviors seriously.”

“The historic take on young children and suicide has been that they have no idea what they’re talking about, that maybe they’re repeating something they’ve heard or doing it for attention,” said senior investigator Joan L. Luby, MD, the Samuel and Mae S. Ludwig Professor of Psychiatry. “Our findings refute that. It really does seem that children expressing suicidal ideation understand what it means to die, and they understand it better than their peers.”