The tragic trend of young kids committing suicide because they despair at being bullied does not seem ready to end anytime soon. The latest is a 12-year-old New York City boy who hanged himself after relentless bullying by the neighborhood kids who teased him for being a "nerd" and a "good student," and, most ruthlessly, for not having a father. The boy's father had died when he was just 4 months old. And what the boy, Joel Morales, didn't know, according to his heartbroken mother, is that his father had also committed suicide.
Joel's half-brother, 25-year-old Richard Salazar, says that his mother is devastated to be dealing with another suicide. "She’s going through the same thing she went through then. The same thing," he said.
Is this some kind of bizarre coincidence? Maybe not. Science has discovered a specific gene linked to suicide. People with a certain variation of a gene have a higher risk of suicide. But little Joel had other risk factors, including:
- Problems at school
- Having lost a loved one
- Social isolation
- Had expressed being depressed
Experts say that kids who are talking about harming themselves should be taken seriously. Some other classic warning signs include not seeming to care about anything, not participating in activities once enjoyed, and giving away personal possessions.
For parents to see this kind of behavior in their young children must be terrifying. Some things that suicide experts suggest doing if you see signs of suicidal behavior include asking the direct question, "Are you thinking of suicide?" If the answer is "Yes," you need to stay calm and try to get more details. Listening, and not judging, is very important.
Then, it's ultra important to get your child professional help, with a counselor, therapist, or at a suicide crisis center. A national suicide crisis number is 1-800-273-TALK.
Has your child ever expressed a desire to hurt him or herself?
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