**UPDATE**: A latest investigation among youth like Kendrea found that the number of young people committing suicide by hanging or suffocation is increasing. Most notably the deaths of youth ranging from 10 – 18 nearly doubled over the past three year. The study also found the number of people using firearms decreased slightly. But firearms still accounted for the majority of deaths, at 51 percent, followed by hanging or suffocation, 34; percent; poisoning 8 percent; and other means 7 percent.
A six-year-old Minnesota girl was found hanging from a jump rope in what many believe to be an apparent suicide.
Kendrea Johnson’s body was found on December 27th, according to the Star Tribune. She left a note after the incident with the words, “I’m sorry.” Another note stated, “I’m sad for what I do.”
Deputy Chief Mark Bruley said that the evidence kept leading investigators to the belief that she intentionally killed herself, but that the department also agreed with the Hennepin County medical examiner that such an act is “outside what a normal 6-year-old could think about.”
“We just did our due diligence to tear this case apart and look at every angle,” Bruley said. “It’s hard to believe that it was even possible. We may never know if it was suicide or an accident.”
Two child therapists who reviewed the investigative records for the Star Tribune said it is indeed possible that the girl took her own life.
“I think all of those factors were in place here,” said George Realmuto, a University of Minnesota psychiatry professor.
As difficult as it is to comprehend how a young child could harm themselves in this way, Dr. James Wadley, licensed counselor and BlackDoctor.org contributor, says there are signs parents, guardians, teachers, etc. can look for that may signal risk:
- Low energy, fatigue, or physical withdrawal or isolation
- Difficulty remaining on task or concentrating. In inability to complete age appropriate tasks
- Low self-esteem (feelings about oneself); low self-respect (e.g., use of excessive profanity; self-injurious behaviors); low self-worth (feeling like he/she cannot contribute anything positive to his/her family or community).
- Feeling guilty and shameful over daily interactions
- Increase or decrease in appetite
- Changes in sleep patterns (e.g., sleeplessness or excessive sleep)
At a June 2014 exam, Kendrea had been assessed as having homicidal and suicidal thoughts, and she had been receiving intensive treatment, according to the police reports. The exam noted that the girl “showed severe guilt, as she does not feel lovable or acceptable and reports feeling guilty and responsible for out-of-home placement.”
Kendrea was placed in foster care in December 2013 after Hennepin County child protection accused her mother of abusing drugs and not following through with a plan to keep her children safe.
Records show that Kendrea’s behavior changed dramatically in foster care. Her most recent foster mother told Brooklyn Park police that the girl once threatened to kill her with a screwdriver. Kendrea also told her foster mother that she wanted to jump out a window and kill herself, said “Nobody likes me” and drew pictures at school of a child hanging from a rope. Police found healed ligature marks on both sides of her neck, records show.
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Post traumatic stress disorder affects millions of children from violent communities or abusive situations. Kendrea also had issues with anger, anxiety and stress, which was quite a load for her at the age of six.
Kendrea’s foster parents, Tannise and Adrea Nawaqavou, have had their foster license temporarily suspended and Brooklyn Park police have closed the investigation.
Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you are concerned about yourself or someone else.