The literature on risk factors for suicidality in children is reviewed. Epidemiology
is explored, as well as problems inherent in the lack of agreed-upon criteria and
terms. The child's concept of death is examined. Biological and psychopathological risk factors are investigated, as well as abuse and family
risk factors. While suicidality is multi-determined, some factors did emerge:
prior suicide, attempts, depression, visual hallucinations, disturbed attachment
and lack of family cohesion. Use of mental health services by the parents was a
risk factor; specific psychiatric diagnoses in the parents which appear to be risk
factors are somatization disorder, anti-social personality disorder, and substance abuse. Suicide in the family history appears to be associated with
suicidal ideation in children, but not with suicide attempts.
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