Mental health in India is very rarely given any heed. Often coming last in terms of our priorities, mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and PTSD often go unrecognized and ignored in our society. The worst hit by these daunting ailments are kids, who more often than not, cannot understand why they feel what they feel—let voice their tribulations.

Now, a study published in the journal Archives of Suicide Research has found that depression, anxiety, and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) are the main reasons why children think about suicide.

“In boys it is previous depressive symptoms which determine subsequent suicidal ideation, while in girls it is a combination of anxiety symptoms, OCD, and the family’s socioeconomic situation,” said Nuria Voltas from Rovira i Virgili University in Spain.

The researchers studied a group of 720 boys and 794 girls from 13 schools in Reus. They were monitored during three developmental periods according to age groups of 10 years, 11 years, and 13 years.

At the beginning of the study, the students participated in a series of psychological tests that were used to detect which of them presented emotional symptoms related to depression, anxiety, and OCD.

From their responses, two groups were created: one group at risk of emotional problems and a control group.

According to the researchers, the figures were quite stable. During the first period, 16% of the students stated that they had thought about suicide, of whom 33% stated the same one year later. In both the second and the third period, ideas of suicide were expressed by 18% of the students surveyed.

The risk of suicide was determined in a personal interview and was present in 12.2% of the children with an average age of 11 years. Although there were no differences between the sexes, the severity of the suicidal behaviour was greater in boys.

“Our results will enable us to have greater control over this particular aspect and take preventive measures in pre-adolescents, who are going through a period of considerable vulnerability,” Nuria concluded.