• France's news in English

Child suicide under-estimated: report

Matthew Warren · 29 Sep 2011, 08:05

Published: 29 Sep 2011 15:28 GMT+02:00
Updated: 29 Sep 2011 08:05 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

A report will be delivered to the youth minister on Thursday claiming that suicide among young people is much higher than official figures suggest.


Around 40 suicides among children aged less than 12 are reported each year. In May, an 11-year-old boy hanged himself with his T-shirt in his school in Arles after he had been sent out of the classroom. 

The author of the report, psychiatrist Boris Cyrulnik, believes that many deaths reported as accidental should also be considered as suicides. "The child who throws himself suddenly under the wheels of a car," he said as an example in an interview with newspaper Aujourd'Hui. 

"Those close to him attribute this as being off-guard or a failure to evaluate the danger properly, while the child knew very well what he was doing," he said.

The author said many children do not really understand what death means when they attempt suicide.

"They don't think they are going to die. They don't have the same notion of death as an adult. What they're looking for is for things to stop, for time so that things can be sorted out," he said.

In the report, which will be presented to youth minister Jeannette Bougrab on Thursday, Cyrulnik will call for a multi-layered approach that takes into account the biological, psychological and social reasons for suicide. 

Post-mortem studies have found that young suicide victims have less serotonin than those dying from other causes. Children born into environments where parents are themselves suffering depression or other problems could be susceptible to lower levels of serotonin. 

Other factors playing a role are related to the child's experiences, including abandonment (which plays a role in 31 percent of suicides), physical abuse (21 percent), sexual abuse (8 percent) and incest (5 percent).

Cyrulnik says that warning signs can be detected. "A good pupil who becomes bad, a girl surrounded by friends who shuts herself off in her bedroom, a happy child who becomes sad," he told newspaper Libération. 

Proposals in the report will include better training for those taking care of young people so they can spot the signs. 

This is particularly important at school, said Cyrulnik, where suffering is "frequent." 12 percent of children claim they are very unhappy at school with a further 18 percent saying they don't enjoy it. The author calls for less "stigmatising marking" of work and dealing with bullying among children.



Matthew Warren (news.france@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
A market in Eymet, southwestern France. Photo: AFP

Foreigners in France explain how life has changed over the years.

London calling for Calais youths, but only a chosen few
Photo: AFP

Dozens of Calais minors are still hanging their hopes on help from the UK, but not all will be so lucky.

17 different ways to talk about sex in French
Photo: Helga Weber/Flickr

Fancy a quick run with the one-legged man?

Yikes! This is what a rat-infested French jail looks like
Photo: YouTube/France Bleu TV.

This video is not for sufferers of ratophobia (or musophobia as the condition is officially called).

France to allow Baby Jesus in Town Halls this Christmas
Photo: AFP

Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus are safe to go on display again this year, it seems.

National Front posts locations of migrants in French town
The National Front courts controversy. Photo: AFP

"Local tax payers have a right to know," says local far-right party chief.

Paris thieves use tear gas to steal €500,000 of watches
Photo: AFP

The thieves pretended to be couriers then threatened staff with tear gas to get the watches.

Bataclan survivor recounts attack in chilling drawings
Photo: BFMTV screengrab

One survivor has recounted the horrific night through illustrations.

Anger among French police grows as Hollande vows talks
French police demonstrate on the Champs Elysées. Photo: AFP

A fourth night of protests shows government efforts to ease anger among French police have been fruitless.

UK border must move back, says 'next French president'
Photo: AFP

If favourite Alain Juppé is elected, Britain and France are in for some difficult negotiations.

Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Sponsored Article
How to vote absentee from abroad in the US elections
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
The ups and downs of being both French and English
How Brexit vote has changed life for expats in France
Twelve French insults we'd love to have in English
What's on in France: Ten of the best events in October
jobs available