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Look out for suicidal signs in children, says psychiatrist

Published:Wednesday | June 10, 2015 | 12:11 PMKarlene Brown, Assistant News Editor - Radio

Psychiatrist, Dr Wendel Abel is urging persons to pay close attention to behavioral changes in children which could put them at risk of suicide.

The psychiatrist, who was quick to point out that Jamaica has one of the lowest suicide rates in the world, says persons should look out for signs of depression, withdrawal and changes in academic performance. 

Abel says children who have carried out what he calls “suicidal guestures” are particularly at risk of committing suicide in the future.


Psychiatrist, Dr. Wendel Abel

Abel says if any of these signs are observed in children, caregivers should seek professional help.

He says persons may seek help from councilors in communities, schools and churches.

However, he is cautioning persons to ensure that they seek help from persons who are adequately trained.

The psychiatrist says too often, help is sought from persons who do not have the requisite skills to handle these cases.

Abel says this can result in more harm than good.


Psychiatrist, Dr. Wendel Abel

Meanwhile, Abel is urging parents and caregivers to create an environment where children feel safe from harm.

READ: Eight-year-old boy suspected to have committed suicide in St Andrew

He says persons should ensure that children are comfortable sharing with them.

And he says in communicating with children, caregivers should try not to humiliate them or put them down.