CONCEPT OF DEATH AND SUICIDAL BEHAVIOR IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS

ROBERT J KARPAS, Pace University

Abstract

The major purpose of this study is to investigate the relationship between a child's concept of death and the presence of suicidal ideation and behavior. For the severely stressed or anguished child already at risk for self destructive behavior, a distorted, unrealistic or immature death concept may contribute to the view that suicide represents an acceptable or desirable solution.^ Fifty children and adolescents, 6 through 16 years of age, were assessed for demographic factors, cognitive ability, and level of depression. Personal and impersonal concept of death were measured using the Kane Death Concept Inventory (Kane, 1984) and projective drawings. The dependent variables of suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior were assessed using items from the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children (6-16 years) (Puig-Antich & Chambers, 1978).^ The main hypotheses predicted that children who have a more complete and accurate personal and impersonal concept of death will show lower levels of suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior than will children who hold inaccurate or incomplete death concepts. Hypotheses were tested using Pearson product-moment coefficient of correlation and hierarchical multiple regression analyses. When a set of independent variables were entered into the regression equation, nearly 55% of the variance in suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior was predicted. Concept of death contributed an additional increase of 04.10 and 04.16% to the prediction of suicidal behavior for impersonal death concept and personal death concept, respectively. An additional hypothesis, that personal death concept and impersonal death concept did not differ significantly, was confirmed.^ While simple correlations were found to exist between selected independent variables and suicidal ideation and suicidal behavior, the relationship between death concept and the dependent variables is more complex. When other factors are taken into consideration, such as the child's previous experience with death, suicidal history, level of depression, and cognitive, religious, family, and other demographic factors, the child's death concept can make a clinically significant contribution to the prediction of suicidal behavior. This research has shown that a child's concept of death is an important factor in developing improved treatment methods and prevention strategies for children and adolescents who are at risk for suicidal behavior. ^

Subject Area

Psychology, Developmental

Recommended Citation

ROBERT J KARPAS, "CONCEPT OF DEATH AND SUICIDAL BEHAVIOR IN CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS" (January 1, 1986). ETD Collection for Pace University. Paper AAI8622018.
http://digitalcommons.pace.edu/dissertations/AAI8622018

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