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Suicides among US children ages 5-12 are rare compared to other age groups

Study: Some factors in these suicides might differ from older children

CNN  — 

One day after school in January, 8-year-old Gabriel Taye returned to his Cincinnati home and hanged himself with a necktie, his family’s attorney says.

His mother, Cornelia Reynolds, found his body that afternoon in his bedroom. His family sued his school district last week, alleging that he’d been bullied and that the school didn’t inform his relatives.

“Gabriel was a shining light to everyone who knew and loved him,” his mother said in prepared statement released to the news media. “We miss him desperately and suffer every day.”

Suicides among US children under 13 are rare, but perhaps more frequent than you think. And 8 is hardly the youngest.

More than 1,300 dead since 1999

From 1999 through 2015, 1,309 children ages 5 to 12 took their own lives in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.

US suicides, ages 10-12, 1999-2015

That means one child under 13 died of suicide nearly every five days, on average, over those 17 years.

The frequency was higher from 2013 to 2015 – once every 3.4 days – thanks mostly to a 54% spike in the suicides of 11- and 12-year-olds compared to the three years prior. That jibes with the CDC’s announcement of a recent rise in suicide rates in ages 10-14.

Suicide comparison 2010-2012 vs 2013-2015 ages 11-12 a

Still, some perspective: Suicides before the teen years are infrequent compared to other groups.

There were 0.31 suicides per 100,000 children ages 5-12 during those 17 years. Compare that to 7.04 suicides per 100,000 people ages 13-18, or 17.39 per 100,000 for ages 18 to 65.

Child suicide rates rise with age. But, yes, the CDC has recorded suicides of 5-, 6- and 7-year-olds. From 1999 to 2015 (the most recent year for data), those numbers were two, four and eight, respectively.