Background: Little research has been done with suicidality in children under 12 but a growing amount of research suggests family systems play a role in childhood depression and suicide; to date, no measure for suicide ideation exists for children under 12. Aims: The aims of this paper are as follows: (1) to adapt a measure of suicide ideation for children under 12; (2) to test if this measure captures suicide ideation differently than depression; and (3) to determine if with whom children live serves as a protective factor against suicide. Method: A sample of 115 children between ages 8 and 12 from one school in rural Wisconsin completed surveys about their family life, depression, and suicidality. Results: Just over 50% of the children surveyed reported some amount of suicide ideation. Factor analyses showed distinct depression and suicide ideation factors. Living with mother correlated to lower depression levels, living with father correlated with lower suicidality levels; living with both parents correlated with lower depression and suicidality levels. Conclusion: The children in this sample appear to experience depression and suicidality as distinct phenomena and in a similar pattern (50% with some non-zero amount of suicide ideation) as many adolescent or adult samples; the role of a father and a mother in a child’s life both appear as protective factors with some distinct impact of each.
Key Take Away Points
- Suicide ideation and depression were seen as clearly distinct phenomena
- The children at this school appear to experience suicide ideation in a similar pattern as some samples of adolescents
- Living with mother and both parents was protective against depression
- Living with father and both parents was protective against suicide ideation
Amanda Koshollek is a school counselor at Washburn School District in Northern Wisconsin; at the time of data collection she was an master's student in the Counselor Education program at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Collin Wright is a psychology major at Brigham Young University. Cass Henriques is a doctoral student in Marriage and Family Therapy at Brigham Young University; at the time of data collection he was an master's student in the Counselor Education program at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Makaela Caldwell is a master's student in Marriage and Family Therapy at Brigham Young University. Quintin Hunt is an Assistant Professor in the Marriage and Family Therapy Program at Brigham Young University; at the time of data collection he was an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Superior. Dr. Hunt serves as the corresponding author for this article.
Koshollek, Amanda; Wright, Collin; Henriques, Cass; Caldwell, Makaela; and Hunt, Quintin
"Suicide Ideation, Depression, and Family Structure in Elementary Students,"
Journal of Family Strengths: Vol. 20:
2, Article 8.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.library.tmc.edu/jfs/vol20/iss2/8