Featured on USA Today. Author: Jayne O'Donnell
Preteen suicides, like that of a 9-year-old Denver boylast week, remain rare. But as their numbers rise, they're getting new attention from researchers.
Jamel Myles died Thursday of suicide, the Denver Office of the Medical Examiner said Monday. His mother said on Facebook that he had been bullied by classmates.
"Please we are all the different and thats what makes us the same because we all have 1 thing in common we're all different thats what makes this world beautiful," Leia Pierce wrote in the post. "I want justice for my son and every kid who is bullied.. I want bullying to end I never want to hear someone else go thru this pain," Leia Pierce wrote in her public Facebook post.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the teen suicide rate rose by more than 70 percent between 2006 and 2016.
Suicide was the 10th leading cause of death for elementary school-aged children in 2014, the CDC reported. The death rate among 10- to 14-year-olds more than doubled from 0.9 per 100,000 in 2007 to 2.1 per 100,000 in 2014.
Suicide is a particular concern among LGBTQ youth. Pierce told KUSA-TV that her son was bullied because he was gay.
Denver Public Schools said late Monday it was "deeply committed to ensuring that all members of the school community are treated with dignity and respect, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or transgender status. It is critical that our students receive all the supports they need to learn and thrive in a safe and welcoming environment."
The district said it has policies and training to prevent and stop bullying, and that it fully respects gender identity, "including use of preferred pronouns and restrooms."
Three out of four LGBTQ youth have searched online for information about depression, a survey this year of 14- to 24-year-olds by Hopelab found. That was more than double the percentage of straight youth who searched for the information.
The percentages who looked for information on anxiety were was similar: 75 percent of LGBTQ youth, compared to 36 percent of their straight peers.
Social media is a big part of the problem, says psychologist Benjamin Miller, chief strategy officer at the nonprofit Well Being Trust, which was a partner of Hopelab for the study.
Preteens and teens are "not given enough time to process heavy and emotional issues every day," Miller says.
"How do you process that as a teenager when you're still trying to learn coping skills?" he asks. "It’s an even bigger problem if you are 6 to 12 years old."
There's a "significant relationship" between peer victimization and suicidal ideation, researchers reported in JAMA Pediatrics in 2014. The authors analyzed 34 studies, with participants ranging from 9 to 21 years.
The suicide rate among black children aged 5 to 12 appears to be roughly double that of white children of the same age group, researchers funded by the National Institute of Mental Health reported this year. In contrast, the rate of suicide for black adolescents was half that of white adolescents.