This morning I was quoted in the Chicago Tribune, talking about the suicide of a 10-year-old boy who was found hanging in a bathroom in an Evanston, Ill. school.
Just to expand on what I said in the story: It's natural that we would want to find reasons for suicide, and that's what we do. "Why did this child commit suicide?" We speculate about his relationships with his classmates, his family situation, his treatment by his teachers, and anything else we think might have pushed him to suicide. But the answer almost always is that people who commit suicide, children and adults, have a mental illness. It's a symptom of a disease.
All of are sad sometimes, even despondent. We suffer horrendous calamities and setbacks. But most of us do not commit suicide. The ones who do have a mental illness, often an undiagnosed one.
The question we should ask after a child's suicide, or any suicide, is not "Why?" The question we should ask is: When will we do the research and provide the mental health care that could have prevented this?