The development of the concept of suicide in children


Claude L Normand, Brian Mishara.


This study evaluated the development of the concept of suicide in sixty children ages six to eleven. It was hypothesized that children's understanding of the concept of suicide would be related to their age, cognitive development, maturity of the concept of death, experiences with death and suicide, and attitudes toward suicide. Twenty children in each of the grades one, three, and five were interviewed using open-ended and structured questions to evaluate these concepts. We found that 10% of first graders, 50% of third graders, and 95% of fifth graders have a basic understanding of suicide. Attitudes toward suicide were neutral or negative. results from regression analyses confirmed that, among those who knew what "suicide" meant, the concept of suicide was significantly related to the concept of death and experiences with death, and it was also related to age when all participants were considered. When only simple correlations were considered, age is significantly related, as are experiences with suicide and cognitive development for the entire sample. Contrary to popular beliefs, children develop detailed knowledge of suicide early in life, and the concept of suicide relates to the development of the concept of death. ENFANT CONCEPT-MORT ÂGE

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