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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Des suicides d’enfants masqués sous des accidents

by Samba Doucouré

Child suicides concealed as accidents

Translated Monday 3 October 2011, by Elaine Scott and reviewed by Henry Crapo

On 29th September, psychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik handed a report to the government concerning children taking their own life. He believes that a number of fatal accidents are comparable to suicide.

In his report commissioned by the Ministry for Youth, Boris Cyrulnik stated that if “successful suicides are rare” in 5 – 12 year-olds, they are nevertheless “certainly more frequent than the official statistics indicate, since they count only obvious suicides”. The most recent figures from Inserm (the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research), published in 2009, showed 37 children and pre-teens aged from 5 to 14 years-old had committed suicide.

“In the majority of cases, the child leans too far out of a window or jumps off a moving bus. So adults think of it as an accident”. Amongst the motives which push children into becoming suicidal, Cyrulnik mentions teen-age stress, parental conflicts, abuse, lack of security at home and bullying at school. “The day when “insecure” children, all alone, without the possibility of sharing their suffering and with no help to understand what is happening to them, comes to understand what death is, they and let themselves be taken by it”, writes the psychiatrist.

Between 6 and 9 years old, children become aware of what death is. Disturbed, it does not take much for them to commit the irreparable. “A hurtful insult, frustration, a bad mark at school or a friend moving away could provoke an unexpected eruption”.

Boris Cyrulnik is calling for the government to introduce a preventative policy, notably providing“consistency” to those with careers in contact with young children, via a “university of young infancy”. At school, he advocates adaptation of the rhythm of school life, leaving assessment of children until they are older, and waging a fight against bullying.

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