Date of Award

Summer 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling & Human Services


Counselor Education and Supervision

Committee Director

Danica G. Hays

Committee Member

Alan Schwitzer

Committee Member

Karen Sanzo


Once every two days in the United States, a child aged 5 to 14 years old dies by suicide (World Health Organization, 2010). When viewed on a spectrum that includes suicidal ideation, verbalizations, behaviors, and attempts, the problem of youth suicidality is actually far greater than the numbers of completed suicides suggest (Cheng, Tao, Riley, Kann, Ye, Tian...Hu, 2009). This study examined suicidality in children ages 10 and younger, and included the characteristics of suicidal children, factors that influence childhood suicidality, and treatment implications. The researcher conducted 12 semi-structured qualitative interviews with experienced treatment providers and performed a content analysis on 22 treatment charts of children identified as being suicidal in order to construct a grounded theory on childhood suicidality. This study found a core category of childhood suicidality, which resulted in 4 axial codes related to the spectrum suicidality present in children 10 and younger, including: suicidal ideation, verbalization, behaviors, and attempts. Through 21 open and 6 focused codes, it was also shown that suicidal children present with a range of behavioral and emotional disruption. A total of 6 axial codes interpreted causal conditions of childhood suicidality, including: abuse & neglect, separation from a primary caregiver, other trauma & stressors, negative familial influences, mental illness, and physical illness. Treatment implications were also found, and included 1 axial code of psychiatric interventions, as well as a researcher-developed theoretical code the primary researcher has labeled The RESCUE Model for Childhood Suicidality, which provides a framework for treatment that teachers, counselors, parents and other caregivers can use when they encounter suicidal children 10 and younger. Finally, barriers to the effective treatment of childhood suicidality were also discussed as a mediating factor to the success of treatment interventions.


In Copyright. URI: This Item is protected by copyright and/or related rights. You are free to use this Item in any way that is permitted by the copyright and related rights legislation that applies to your use. For other uses you need to obtain permission from the rights-holder(s).