Sun | Dec 15, 2019

9-y-o suspected of taking life in St Mary - Therapist urges parents to respect children, be alert for telltale signs of suicide

Published:Wednesday | November 20, 2019 | 12:43 AMChristopher Thomas and Carl Gilchrist/Gleaner Writers


A pall of gloom hung over the community of Mason Hall near Port Maria in St Mary yesterday as residents awoke to the shocking news of a suspected suicide by nine-year-old Jaden Grant.

The St Mary police told The Gleaner that on Monday evening, Jaden was at home with his father when he left his dad’s company and went into a bedroom.

When his father didn’t see him return, he went inside the room to investigate about 7:15 p.m.

He reportedly found Jaden, a student of the Port Maria High and Preparatory School, hanging from a window grille with a baby receiving blanket tied around his neck.

Efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

The police said that the investigations were ongoing, with early indications suggesting suicide.

A number of children have been suspected of taking their own lives this year, including 13-year-old Jillian Smith, who was found hanging from a length of rope at her home in Chatham, St James, in September; 12-year-old Renesha Henry of Belle Plain, Clarendon, who was found hanging from a tree in her yard in August; and 16-year-old Sydonie Johnson, who reportedly hanged herself at her Newton, St Elizabeth, home in January.

According to a 2014 UNICEF report, 60 per cent of Jamaicans who were admitted to hospital after attempting suicide were below the age of 25, while 69.9 per cent of students polled admitted to having had suicidal thoughts within the past year.


Western Jamaica-based family therapist Dr Beverly Scott is calling on parents to be more observant of their children’s behavioural patterns and show them greater respect in order to negate the conditions that could spark suicidal tendencies.

“Parents and caregivers need to understand their children’s development and how to handle it. In my experience, most parents don’t know how to deal with them and don’t treat them with respect, but children of both sexes can develop suicidal tendencies depending on the relationship they’ve had with their parents,” said Scott.

She added that parents should seek to nurture their children’s physical, mental and psychological development and avoid embarrassing them even while administering discipline.

“If children have very good relationships with their parents and the parents are giving them good guidance, then when they get to puberty, those children will be more stable and unlikely to develop suicidal tendencies,” noted Scott. “But children who’ve had a history of abuse and neglect are more likely to develop suicidal tendencies because they’re not strong enough to deal with the issues that come up against them at that age.”

Scott also noted that teenagers may feel suicidal based on physiological changes in puberty and conflicting feelings about their peers, parents, and authority figures.

“Children at that age are going through what we call a biopsychosocial crisis. Psychologically, it’s the sense that ‘teachers are saying this, parents are saying this, peers are saying this’, so this can confuse them and throw them into turmoil, causing them to develop suicidal tendencies,” explained Scott.

Telltale signs that a child may be experiencing suicidal tendencies:

- They may become withdrawn.

- They may start to eat much less or much more than usual.

- They may not be as interested in schoolwork or friends as before; if they were good students before, the grades may start to fail.

- They may start sleeping too much or too little.

- They may say that nobody likes them, or they may want to go where nobody can find them.

- They may say they hate their parents.

- They may say there’s nothing worth living for.

- They may give away specially treasured items to friends.

- They may voice what they are going through in order to bring your attention to it.

- They might take a few pills or other items they know will harm them, and then disclose it.

- If depressed, they may appear like they are coming out of it, as if they have got an answer to solving the depression.

- They may confide in their friends that they are planning to do something.