The Concept of Death and Suicidal Behavior in Young Children: Three Case Studies

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Case studies are reported of two girls two attempted suicide and one boy who threatened to commit suicide. The analysis of their interviews substantiates the hypothesis that a unique cognitive conceptualization of death plays a role in the suicidal behavior of children. The children of these studies regarded themselves as being able to undergo “life-like” experiences after death. They had two conceptions about death: impersonal death, referring to other people; and personal death, referring to their own death. The latter was regarded as another form of life and as reversible. Theoretical and clinical implications concerning children's suicidal behavior are suggested.

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