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Did A 6 Year Old Commit Suicide ?

A medical examiner in Oregon has concluded that a 6 year old girl committed suicide after being sent to her room. The police disagree with the finding and view it as an accident. The question has become whether a small child has the mental capacity to commit suicide.
While her mother and three siblings were in another part of the house, the authorities said, Samantha got inside an unused crib that had no mattress or box spring. She placed a child's belt around her neck and tied it to the upper railing of the crib, hanging herself. The first-grader died at a hospital after the family and paramedics tried to save her.

Dr. Clifford Nelson, the deputy state medical examiner, ruled the death a suicide, a conclusion police did not support.

"The disagreement is a little more philosophical than it is material to the case," McMinnville police Capt. Dennis Marks said prior to the public records request. "It's not that we disagree with the mechanics of what happened. It's the finding that a 6-year-old could form that kind of intent."

Nelson said it's a disturbing case, but he couldn't "fudge the facts to make people feel better."

For now, her death is listed as the youngest suicide on record in Oregon. This classification will likely have both legal and societal implications.

As a side note: this obviously falls under the "orama" part of neatorama.  As a parent I  personally found the article incredibly disturbing on many levels.


In 1969, my older brother attempted suicide at the age of 5. He created a noose and hung himself in the garage because he thought my father, who was overseas in the Navy, must have died and quote, "wanted to go to heaven and visit him."
Fortunately, someone found him before he died. His face was already blue, however, so he wouldn't have lived much longer.
Doctors at the time struggled with the same question and, as I understand it, presented my brother's case in a medical conference.
My father immediately retired from the Navy and our family took a break from going to church for a while. My brother went into therapy (such as it was in those days) and is a successful, professional adult with a family.
Over the years, we have discovered that suicides actually run in our family! (It used to be such a dirty secret, no one talked about it!)
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Rather similar to what happened to a grade school friend of mine. I believe he was 7 when he got into an argument with his mother over his Nintendo (he wanted to sell it, she wanted to save it for his younger brother) and got sent to his room. He was found by his brother later that evening, hanging with a shoelace around his neck from the top bunk in their room. His death was ruled an accident with the story being that he wanted to play a joke on his mother to make her feel guilty, but ended up slipping on the lower bunk's bedding and hitting a nerve in his neck that rendered him unconscious. As he was alone, however... who knows?

I think suicide in children may not be so wildly uncommon, but it isn't recognized because it does often get termed an accident. It may be "accidental" in that they don't understand the ramifications of dying, but surely the children intend to do whatever it is that kills them?
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That's pretty scary - kids don't have a good grip on their emotions, and there's only so much parents can do to make sure there are no ways they can "accidentally" strangle themselves.
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Good god that is so fucked up. Katie summed it up well in saying that surely the children understand the actions they're doing but don't fully grasp the consequences.

As a possible future parent, this creeps me out beyond words. I'm of the old school mentality ("You will eat your supper and you will LIKE it or you're going to bed without it!") because I can't stand today's wishy-washy helicopter parenting; it just doesn't work. However, now I'm starting to doubt myself. I don't want my kids seeing their friends raised differently and thinking my limitations are too draconic or that I don't love them. I should think that feeling unwanted is as bad as growing up without proper rules, just that it's a different kind of bad.

Goddamnit, world. Maybe I should just get a dog and be happy.
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Of course a small child has the mental capacity to commit suicide, or sadness, or laughter or beauty.

If a six-year old can be one hell of a guitar player, or a two-year old can be a dang good drummer (youtube is littered with similar amazing kids) what kind of an idiot do you have to be to _not_ see that thsoe labeled as a "small child" are nothing more than people with small bodies?
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@Zaulankris: You are correct. Wishy-washy parenting is for the birds.

As a past parent, I can tell you what will mess up your child faster than anything. Don't let him/her help you ("because he/she might break it!")

Second one is agreements. Break every agreement you make with him/her. If say "Do that one more time and I'm gonna..." You da*n well better! But look at this on the positive side to: make agreements WITH him/her -- and you worry about YOU keeping them. They will probably do better than you at that.
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My best friend's brother committed suicide at age 9 by hanging himself with his robe belt from the closet clothes hanger. "Roberto" had always been a huge risk taker (climbing out onto the roof from his bedroom window at age 6) and had some emotional problems to boot.

Could a child psychiatrist helped him? Perhaps. As Cosmo noted, even in the mid-80s there was not necessarily good help easily available for a lower middle class family.

Zaulankris, stick to your ideals and don't be a helicopter parent. So many unpleasant children become unpleasant adults out of that parenting style. I had clear, specific rules and my 18 and 22 year old have never had an issue with our family rules vs. another family's. They only become an issue if you allow it.

Just last year my mother mentioned the tragedy of "Roberto's" "accidental" death. I told her it was a suicide, something that didn't escape "Roberto's" elder sister or myself. As Katiekatiekatie mentioned, it can often get ruled as "accidental" either to spare feelings or because the coroner doesn't believe the mental capacity exists.

My thoughts go out to the family on their loss, and to everyone else who has mentioned losing a child to suicide. I still wonder what "Roberto" would be like as an adult...
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As someone studying to be a child psychologist, I know that child suicide exists and is tragic.

I remember my professor once telling me about a depressed child he was working with. The child wanted to commit suicide. The child insisted that they understood what death meant, that if they died they were never coming back. After many sessions, my professor happened to mention that when you die, you don't have any more birthdays. The child suddenly said "What?! I don't come back on my birthdays? What about Christmas?"

Children absolutely have the ability to kill themselves (and other things/people, too). But the truth is that they do not understand the consequences. That part of their brain has not yet developed (and doesn't until you are in your early twenties) and they cannot fathom what death really means.
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Little children can indeed commit suicide; we , as a society, don't want to admit it because children are innocent. (That is, unless a prosecutor is running for office again, and then a "criminal" child is suddenly and adult.)

"As a side note: this obviously falls under the “orama” part of neatorama."

WTF is that supposed to mean? Seriously. It obviously falls under "this sort of post belongs on another site".
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I agree with CYBret, I do not come to Neatorama to see sad depressing things that I could find on CNN. I come here to relax and have fun, now I'm depressed. Please no more stories like this.
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Children on psychiatric drugs are killing themselves. It happened in Florida and it will hapen over and over until people see the truth about the link between psychiatric drugs and suicide/mass killings...
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As a teacher, I often have to remind parents, administrators, and even other teachers that children experience all of the same human emotions as an adult - every single one of them. They just haven't learned the most effective and appropriate skills to cope with them yet, so don't be surprised when a child's reason for doing something doesn't really make sense.

If you examine what we know about the development of the pre-frontal cortex from childhood to adulthood, you'll see that whatever decision-making and coping skills finally do get learned are not fully realized until the mid-20's.

That's why all kids seem to be hopelessly neurotic if not downright crazy.
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I agree with reo... In the future, maybe less about the actual specific stories on the neatorama summary and more about the idea to get you thinking rather than tell a sad story
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I agree reo.
Yes the story is depressing, but I still find it interesting and it gets you thinking and discussing it.
If you want shiny happy all the time, that's what sites like cuteoverload are for.
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I find this tragic beyond words.

I'm struck by it on a very personal level because I tried to commit suicide when I was 9 and again when I was 13. When I entered therapy, and each time I changed doctors, the presumption was that these were "cries for help" and not serious attempts. But both times I understood exactly what I was trying to do, and I tried to hide what I had done when I failed. I ended up in therapy with a diagnosis that boiled down to adolescent angst - until someone competent realized that I had Bipolar Disorder.

20 years later, I'm glad I made it through and got the proper treatment, but I will never forget what it was like to want to die at such a young age. This tragedy brings me back to that very dark place and I mourn for the girl and her family.
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My only comment is for everybody complaining this type of story doesn't belong on NEATORAMA. You read the title and yet you went ahead and read the story and then you took the time to comment on it. If you think a story might be disturbing for you to read you might just want to skip it.
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If I found my kids in this situation I would f*cking scream vomit on every surface of their room. This is the most f*cked up thing I've ever heard. there's no way a six-year old knows what suicide is, and if they do then that's an epic fail on the parents part.
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Thank you for posting this story. While it is heartbreaking and as a mom it makes my physically sick to my stomache - it needs to be seen.

I was suicidal from a very young age (kindergarden) and I can vouch that childhood depression is very real and very misunderstood. I planned out many ways to kill myself in grade school and never told anyone. I was not abused or anything, I believe now that I had a hormonal imbalance. I was very smart and knew all the ways I could fail at my "plans", failure was not an option. I didn't actually attempt anything until I was a teenager.

I doubt this girl had never exhibited signs of depression before this happened. It was more likely just the last straw for her. I hope she's at peace.
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Children most certainly can commit suicide, and be suicidal. I was a suicidal six-year-old. I was an early learner with everything, reading before I was two years old, and since they refused putting me into a higher grade, they just made me do different and harder work in my own class, and tutor the other students. I didn't get along with my peers at all. For a period of about two and a half years, a lot of family members kept dying, and we were at the funeral home at least once a month. Towards the middle of my first grade year, my 18 month old cousin died of brain cancer, my 19-year-old cousin committed suicide, and my great Aunt Lulu, who I was closer to than anybody in the world, finally died after a couple of years of major suffering from cancer. I couldn't take it, and I would write stories and poems about me committing suicide. My teacher found some of these writings and notified my family, and I had to go into therapy for it. I had a plan that wouldn't have worked, but it was that I would bury myself in my stuffed animals and suffocate. Or that I would crawl into my bunny's cage, get into the corner, and suffocate. I had these feelings for about a year after I started therapy. I always had feelings of alienation growing up, and still do. When I was thirteen, I made two attempts to commit suicide. These were called "cries for help", but I knew what I was doing, and I wanted to die. You don't take an entire 150 pill bottle of Tylenol PM that you bought that morning for a specific purpose, and just want Mom and Dad to find you and "help" you.

Anyway, this story is very tragic, it doesn't sound like an accident, but I'd like to hear about how the child was acting around this time. If she was sad, crying a lot, angry, etc.
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A kid knows. I went through it. Maybe not that young but close enough. It is hard and even as an adult I struggle. My parents abused me growing up, claiming it all in "Christianity." Do you call beating young kids with a board on the legs and butt until they are black and blue "love"? Through my teen years I starved myself and eventually wanted to kill myself. So yes, kids that young can contemplate suicide. I have been there and unless you know from personal experience then you don't know anything at all. Kids are a lot smarter than you give them credit for and you can't shield them from everything all of the time. Don't take it for granted because it can happen whether you believe it or not.
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I've wanted to kill myself since i was 6, im 18 , I still would love to die,

and 6 year olds don't kill themselves just because mommy said no, i was fully aware of what i was doing and remember it clear as day, i wanted to die because my parents were drug addicts, my father was a drunk, I got made fun of everyday, and I got to listen to my best friends screams as he was beaten by his foster parents everyday

its not selfish to want to kill yourself, its selfish that myou people whining don't take in the fact that, that person could STILL be getting raped and beaten and tortured, physically OR emotionally every day, you're selfishfor wanting to control them, its sad when a person goes, but
saying thats selfish is saying you want to prevent them from THEIR happyness, how selfish of you is that?
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Kathy if your parents were disturbed, don´t blame it on Christianity. and Ashmic, I never thought about selfishness the way you describe it. Interesting, very interesting.
In my opinion, children see everything overbig and overserious. So, the moment (and it must be a moment), when they do something foolish like wanting to hurt back... and they (in many cases sadly) succed, we have a TRAGEDY.
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the reason I was here and read this article is because I am a concerned parent of a 7 year old girl.

She has had mental health issues since the age of 3 and has been seen by many professionals and had several invasive tests to rule out more physical causes of her behaviour (yes we're canadian, hence the spelling). We have multiple diagnoses from 3 doctors. Currently she is being treated primarily Bipolar Disorder among others.

We are constantly trying to keep this child stabilized. As she grows, she needs changes to her medications and it can be a struggle to find the right dose/combinations. Recently her fluoxotine (Prozac) was increased----since this increase she has been talking a lot about killing and wanting to die (black box warning on ssri's). Most of this is at school in her "pretend life" where she hates being because she also has separation anxiety and would be much happier at home with mom.

Children absolutely can have real feelings about wanting to die and it shouldn't be underestimated. Don't ever think for one second that it's always a sign of bad parenting. We love our child to pieces and have been trying since the age of 3 to help her. Sometimes there is a lot more to the story than a child being sent to their room or abuse etc. I hope that I never have to bury my child----that would be totally devastating and my heart goes out to these parents.
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I give my upmost respect to this story. I lost my son 3 weeks ago. He was 9 and hung himself. He was sent to his room to be found an 1/2 hour later hanging from his closet pole. It hurts like hell to think of it.

Anyhow I don't have respect for so many foolish people who comment that children don't think that way. My son was very intelligent above grade level. Its not that hard for children to know that when you die, youre dead and theres no coming back. My sons death is a tragedy like many other children who committed suicide. But can I honestly say my son didnt know what death was no! Am I responsible for sending my child to his room. People are so arrogant I wonder if any of the people who have commented to this story have any kids. I never thought my son who had a great future ahead of him would have done such a thing. Do I question it yes thats why i found this story because I want to understand. Yet I know that my children are not my children but God's. My son touched many lives while here on earth and Im sure he is a great Angel watching down on earth. Everything happens for a reason and rather you believe in God or not I don't care because I do. If I didnt have a God to believe in I'd probably be dead along with my son. The pain of losing a child is really unexplainable. But somehow I have a strength that keeps me going everyday I wake up. N only my God could give me such strength.

I apologize if anyone gets offended but some people just shouldnt comment on things they dont understand try researching and learning on a subject title whatever before given their opinion.

My prayers are with the family of this child. I understand and feel the pain they are going through.

God Bless
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Child suicide is a real thing. Isolation, depression, abuse, etc, are all reasons for suicide, and what people don't understand is that children feel the same way as an adult, they just don't handle their emotion as well. I should know, I try to kill myself when I was eight. I was a lonely, too intelligent, sexually abused, anti-social, bookworm, "nerd-ish" (with my peers), "stupid" (with my cousins), out-casted/ignored little girl.
Because I couldn't handle being ignored by everyone, (yes, my parents ignored me, but not by choice. I knew they loved me, they still do, but I rarely saw my dad because of his job, and my mom was always busy doing something.) which included my sister, cousins, and anyone in my age group, and being abused by someone I thought I trusted, I was going to "sleep forever." I was going to take a load of sleeping pills (my mom's an insomniac. So am I), but fate has it that the day I was going to kill myself was the day my abuser stopped and my mom ran out of pills. Not sure what to do, I failed in my plans, and so far, I've been thoroughly enjoying life.
So, yes, child suicide is possible. It's always been possible, and will always be possible as long as children are abused, hurt, or just put through too much stress or emotion overload. That's why parents must love their children, nurture them, but also discipline them with a gentle, but stern hand. Condolence to the parents. No one should be put through that sort of pain and grief.
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