Expert Warns Children Aren't Immune To Suicide

A Windsor based psychologist and expert on suicide is putting out a warning after a nine-year-old boy committed suicide in Colorado.

Jamel Myles killed himself last Thursday, soon after the new school year started.

His mother says the 4th grader came out as gay over the summer.  

AM800's Patty Handysides spoke to Dr. Antoon Leenaars about the tragic incident

Leenaars says it doesn't happen often, but suicide is an issue with children as well.

"I think people are surprised and bewildered but we have to be aware that, although it's a small percentage and very rare, there are children who die by suicide," he says.

Just because children aren't commonly associated with suicide, Leenaars says it doesn't mean a sad child should be dismissed.

"We have to pay much more attention as parents and teachers and I think when we see them being distraught, upset," says Leenaars. "We need to ask them what's wrong and not be surprised that they may talk about suicide, it does happen sadly."

Child, or adult, keeping suicidal thoughts private is common, he says.

"It can be as much as 80% of people who keep suicide generally hidden and not talked about," he says. "That is even true, even more so with children, people just don't."

Leenaars adds bullying is not just an adolescent problem — many of his adult patients are still coming to grips with the issue in the workplace.

- with files from AM800's Gord Bacon