INDIANAPOLIS -- An 11-year-old Indianapolis boy attempted suicide on Sunday – one of two juvenile suicide attempts reported over the weekend.
According to a report filed by IMPD, the boy was transported to Riley Hospital for Children in critical condition. The hospital said it couldn't provide any more information about the case, citing patient privacy.
Child psychologist Dr. Zachary Adams, who works at Riley but was not involved in treating either patient this weekend, said the boy's young age did not surprise him.
"Among kids age 10-18, suicide is the number two cause of death nationwide. In Indiana, things look no different," Adams said. "It's certainly not unusual to encounter young kids who have either attempted suicide or committed suicide."
Indiana in particular seems to have a problem with youth suicide. In 2015, the Indiana Youth Institute released a report finding that more Hoosier teens considered suicide than any other state in the country.
Another report, this one issued by the Indiana State Department of Health and covering the years between 2006 and 2011, found that 11 percent of high school students reported attempting suicide in the previous 12 months, and an additional 19 percent reported seriously considering it.
READ MORE | Suicide in Indiana Report 2006-2011
"Odds are, if you're somebody who has a teenager in your life, maybe you work with teenagers, odds are you've come into contact with somebody in the past year who's really thought seriously about taking his or her own life," Adams said.
Adams says we're often reluctant to talk about suicide with anyone out of the fear of "planting a seed" in someone's mind. But the opposite is really true, he said: We need to talk about suicide openly and directly.
"One of the most important things is to listen and to talk to our kids," Adams said. "For understandable reasons, people may be reluctant to have a conversation with their child or somebody they care for about suicide. Sometimes it's because people worry raising the issue might plant a seed. But what we know from clinical experience and research is that it's just not the case. In fact, one of the best things you can do is be very direct. If you're concerned that somebody might be depressed or having thoughts about killing themselves, the best thing you can do is ask that question, 'Are you thinking about killing yourself?' And opening the conversation and signaling that you're a safe person to talk to about this scary topic."
Watch our full interview with Dr. Adams in the video player above.
If you're concerned a young person (or an adult) you know may be considering suicide, Adams says the following signs are indicators to look for:
- Major changes in behavior, things like being more irritable or disruptive or acting out more than the child typically does
- Major changes in sleep – sleeping too much or not sleeping enough
- Physical symptoms like headaches or stomach aches
- Being more reckless or impulsive than they usually are
- Disengaging from activities and relationships that are important to them
- Looking online for information about how to end their life
- Giving things away or saying goodbye
"It's scary for everybody involved because nobody wants kids to hurt themselves or to die, right? And that sounds obvious, but it's a big reason why people – I use the term avoidance – why people may avoid the topic," Adams said. "But like many topics that are scary, avoiding it rarely solves it. When we think about suicide prevention, one big piece of that is awareness."
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, help is available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24 hours a day online at http://suicidepreventionlifeline.org or over the phone at 1-800-273-8255.
If you believe someone is in serious danger, Adams says the best thing to do is to call 911 immediately.