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A Journal on Pediatrics, Neonatology, Adolescent Medicine,
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

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Minerva Pediatrica 2001 June;53(3):211-20

language: Italian

Preadolescence and suicide attempts

Gandione M., Sirianni C., Rigardetto R.


The authors refer their experience regarding suicide attempts in preadolescence, an age less discussed than adolescence in the international literature on the subject. A case-study of 27 patients (12 boys and 15 girls), all under 13 years and in-patients in the Child Neuropsychiatry Section of the Department of Pediatric and Adolescence Sciences of the Turin University during ten years (1990-1999), is described. Various criteria are taken into consideration, including incidence peaks, social extraction, birth order, methods used, psychiatric illness in the family, family break-ups, organic illness in the family, experience of loss, previous signs of emotional disturbance, precipitant events, any repeat attempts and the patients' psychopathological profiles, and the most important aspects are illustrated. The data resulting from the case-study show that suicide attempts by pre-teenagers are not as rare as commonly believed, especially at the age just before entering into true adolescence. The authors conclude by emphasising that suicide attempts seem to be a phenomenon involving particularly less well-off classes (a good 87% of the case-study); among the methods used, the ingestion of drugs is the most common, the incidence of psychiatric illness in the family (45%) is certainly relevant and in 70% of cases there were previous and evident signs of emotional disturbance. In consideration of the information already available and the findings reported in this study, attempted suicide attempts appear to be a «symptom» and not a pathology, at which basis different psychopathological profiles can be found: it is a symptom of a serious emotional and relational problem, which rarely reveals itself suddenly and even more rarely is resolved without help.

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