Child Suicide Attachment and Society
Boris Cyrulnik is a neuro-psychiatrist and course director at the University of Toulon, France. He is the author of many highly successful works, most notably, Un merveilleux malheur, Les Vilains Petits Canards, Parler d'amour au bord du gouffre, Autobiographie d’un épouvantail and, in 2010, Mourir de dire.
Following several cases of child suicide which received wide media coverage, the French government, through its Secretary of State for Youth, Jeannette Boughrab, commissioned Boris Cyrulnik to write a report on the recent and alarming increase of suicide among young people.
Although there are few reported cases of child suicide in France (between 60 and 100 per year), their number is greatly underestimated, with many suicides being reported as “accidents”. The very idea that a child could commit suicide is repugnant to many people.
And yet suicide is the second cause of mortality among children under 15, a fact, argues the author, that reveals a profound dysfunction in our society.
Cyrulnik blames the insufficient affection that many children receive in a progressively more stressful society, and he proposes such preventive measures as increased care during the final weeks of pregnancy, extended parental leave for both parents, adapting the pace of the academic year and of the school day to the child’s needs, increasing extracurricular structures that favour socialisation (sports, art, Scouts) and, finally, establishing a more determined policy for the integration of immigrant populations.
• A powerful book on a largely taboo subject, by an eminent neuro-psychiatrist.