Thank you Brandon Stahl (& David Chanen) at the Star Tribune for writing this article giving voice to the elephant in the room that is dangerous and suicidal behavior of very young children in child protection. No one wants to hear it and no one wants to address this, but it is a very real problem of great consequence to children and our communities.
As painful as this conversation is, without it, dangerous and suicidal behaviors will continue to be an issue for abused and neglected children in need of protection (in & out of the system).
As a CASA guardian ad-Litem, I see this awful suicide as the tip of the iceberg that is the under-treatment (resources/response/coordination/services) provided to the poor young souls unlucky enough to be born into a dangerous and dysfunctional family.
Children traumatized severely enough to be removed from their birth home don’t have coping skills to mend themselves or manage the behavioral problems that follow from what has been done to them. Considerations:
Judge Heidi Schellhas shared a list of children from four to fourteen forced to take psychotropic medications. It was a very big list – nationally, between a third and one half of children in CP are proscribed psychotropic medications. Label warnings about the dangers of suicide for consumers of these powerful medications are not there for nothing. Suicidal ideation is very real. Fully formed thoughts of suicide for five year olds – what’s that like?
I’ve written about suicides of young people over the years; the most pertinent article to this case is 7 year old foster child Gabriel Myers who hung himself and left a note about how he hated Prozac.
Only the worst of the worst cases of child abuse make it into child protection – these children have been traumatized and they need a high level of care not readily available in the average foster home.
Abused children often feel responsible for what has happened to them and carry powerful feelings of guilt and self loathing that plague them every hour of every day.
My direct experience comes from an experience of suicidal ideation delivered by Topamax, proscribed to me for migraine headaches (it did not work) and an 11 year old CASA guardian ad-Litem boy on Ritalin asking me, “when will I be normal”. He had many attempts at suicide over the years I was his guardian ad-Litem.
There are many stories about traumatized boys and girls carrying lighter fluid, cuts themselves, violent behaviors and dangerous to the people trying to help them recover.
Those are often the people hurt the worst. In this case, Kendrea threatened to kill her foster mother with a screwdriver and told her she wanted “to jump out a window and kill herself”.
We the people have avoided this conversation for many years. Until we have it, the prisons will remain full, schools will struggle to teach children with unmanageable / dangerous behavioral problems, and we will read about suicidal six year old boys and girls.
They are children and they need our help.
Stand Up For Children (share this with your friends and networks and help KARA’s voice for children grow)
Recommend the exhibit to your college/university/museum – start the conversation where you live.