Suicide is extremely rare among persons under age 15 years old. Nationwide, it has been reported that 18% of students in grade 6 had thoughts of killing themselves. The Social Disintegration Model (SDM) summarizes intra-personal, interpersonal, peer network, physical and heath risk behaviour characteristics that may influence suicide ideation. As part of a larger study to test a family strengthening programme, 179 later elementary school children from two cities responded to 20 items about their participation in health risk behaviour. Sixteen youth indicated they had thought of killing themselves. Based on the SDM, these 16 youth were compared with the larger sample on measures of ways of coping; family communication, functioning and caring; school connectedness, pubertal development; and alcohol use and weapon carrying. Youth who responded positively to the 'thought of killing self' screening question, felt less connected to their school, used more internalizing behaviours and reported less cohesion, open communication, supervision and family caring than youth who answered no. Youth who thought of killing themselves may benefit from additional school support to feel more comfortable and connected at school. Community resources may help parents modify child-rearing behaviours. Building communication among parents and youth may prevent suicidal behaviour among young adolescents.
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