A study led by UBC psychiatry professor Dr. Sophia Frangou, published on Mar. 12, 2020, found that children with psychological problems, children exposed to family conflict and children who spend more time using digital devices were more likely to report suicidal thoughts. (PxHere)

A study led by UBC psychiatry professor Dr. Sophia Frangou, published on Mar. 12, 2020, found that children with psychological problems, children exposed to family conflict and children who spend more time using digital devices were more likely to report suicidal thoughts. (PxHere)

Study led by B.C. prof finds 8% of school-age children have thought about or attempted suicide

WARNING: This story contains references to suicide and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Eight in 100 school-age children have experienced suicidal ideas and behaviours, according to a landmark study led by a UBC professor.

The study, published on Mar. 12 in the medical journal Lancet Psychiatry, found children with psychological problems and children exposed to family conflict were most likely to report suicidal thoughts.

The likelihood of suicidal ideas, plans and attempts also increased with longer screen-time use, particularly on weekends.

For the study, UBC psychiatry professor Dr. Sophia Frangou led an international research team in analyzing data from the Adolescent Brain and Cognitive Development (ABCD) study, which is the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the U.S., comprising 11,875 children aged 9-10 years old.

ALSO READ: Canada’s children have high rates of suicide, child abuse, infant mortality — report

While the “worrying” study used data collected in the U.S., Frangou said it “transcends the boundaries of countries.”

“If you take into account differences across different states and the studies that have been done in Canada, which are smaller,” Frangou said, “when it comes to the most important factors … it’s family function and psychological problems in the children.”

As for screen-time use as a factor for suicidal ideas, plans and attempts, Frangou said “we have to be very careful how one interprets this.”

“It is true that children who spend more time using different digital devices were more likely to have these suicidal thoughts, but we cannot say that this association is causal,” she said. “It’s equally likely that troubled children … they may find refuge and escape in engaging in different games.”

ALSO READ: ‘Time to take action’ — Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

For successful prevention of suicide in school-age children, Frangou said it’s “critically dependent on reducing risk factors while promoting factors that can have a protective effect.”

“The risk and protective factors we identified in this study are particularly useful as they can be addressed here and now, and modified through interventions aimed at identifying and targeting childhood mental health disorders, increasing school engagement, and providing support to families,” she said.

ALSO READ: BC Children’s warns of glamorizing self-harm on World Suicide Prevention Day

Moving forward, Frangou and her research team are using brain imaging to identify brain activity that corresponds with suicidal ideas, plans and attempts in children as well as adolescents.

They also plan to use data from follow-up assessments of the ABCD study to map the trajectories of suicidal ideas, plans and attempts in youth, and examine how these may be influenced by social interactions.

ALSO READ: Doctors aims to scale up youth suicide prevention program across Canada

According to the Canadian federal government and the National Institute of Mental Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death for children and adolescents in Canada and the U.S.

If you feel like you are in crisis or are considering suicide, please call the Crisis Centre BC suicide hotline at 1-800-784-2433.

Other resources include: Canada Suicide Prevention Service at Toll free: 1-833-456-4566. You can also text 45645 or visit the online chat service at crisisservicescanada.ca.

Some warning signs include suicidal thoughts, anger, recklessness, mood changes, anxiety, lack of purpose, helplessness and substance abuse.



karissa.gall@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

suicide

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Courtenay council
City of Courtenay receives $4 million Safe Restart Grant

In the fall, the City of Courtenay received a $4.149 million ‘COVID-19… Continue reading

A single-vehicle motor vehicle incident slowed traffic on Highway 19A Wednesday afternoon.
Single-vehicle motor vehicle incident causes delays in Courtenay

Roads were wet with a mixture of snow and rain falling throughout the day

Flowers poke through the snow in Courtenay as the area got a taste of winter weather this week. Photo by Erin Haluschak
Valley not out of the winter woods quite yet: meteorologist

“It’s winter; we’ve got to get through it together.”

The Village of Cumberland is moving ahead on bringing in possible speed limit reductions. Record file photo
Cumberland council moves on slower speed zones

Mayor says goal is to have ‘blanket zone’ in place by summer

Wind turbines are seen on a dike near Urk, Netherlands, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. A group of scientists, including five Nobel laureates, called Friday for more action to adapt the world to the effects of climate change, drawing comparisons with the faltering response to the coronavirus crisis, ahead of a major online conference on climate adaptation starting Monday and hosted by the Netherlands. (AP Photo / Peter Dejong)
Comox Valley groups host course on actively implementing solutions to climate change

The Sustainable Action group for the Environment (SAGE) and the Comox Valley… Continue reading

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Former Vancouver Giants forward Evander Kane is seen here in Game 7 of the second round of the 2009 WHL playoffs against the Spokane Chiefs (Sam Chan under Wikipedia Commons licence)
Gambling debts revealed in details of bankruptcy filing by hockey star Evander Kane

Sharks left winger and former Vancouver Giants player owes close to $30 million total

Othman “Adam” Hamdan, pictured in front of Christina Lake’s Welcome Centre, was acquitted of terrorism related charges in 2017. He has been living in Christina Lake since November 2020. Photo: Laurie Tritschler
Man acquitted on terrorism charges awaits deportation trial while living in Kootenays

Othman Ayed Hamdan said he wants to lead a normal life while he works on his upcoming book

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 prior to being sworn in by The Honourable Janet Austin, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia during a virtual swearing in ceremony in Victoria, Thursday, November 26, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Premier Horgan calls jumping COVID vaccine queue ‘un-Canadian’

Horgan says most people in B.C. are doing their best to follow current public health guidelines

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, left, and Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart share a laugh while speaking to the media before sitting down for a meeting at City Hall, in Vancouver, on Friday August 30, 2019. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Vancouver mayor, Health Canada to formally discuss drug decriminalization

Kennedy Stewart says he’s encouraged by the federal health minister’s commitment to work with the city

Downtown Fernie is pictured after a snowfall.
B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at B.C. legislature on the province’s mass vaccination plan for COVID-19, Jan. 22, 2021. (B.C. government)
COVID-19 quarantine not an option for B.C., John Horgan says

Apres-ski parties increase risk, not interprovincial travel

Most Read