Nearly 40 percent of young adults who said they had tried suicide made their first attempt during elementary or middle school, published in the Nov. issue of the Journal Adolescent Health.

Researchers at University of Washington found that suicide attempts during childhood were linked to higher depression scores at the time of attempts, validating that young adults can reliably recall when they first attempted suicide.

"Young adults who end up having chronic mental health problems show their struggles early," said James J. Mazza PhD, lead author and professor of educational psychology at the University of Washington.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suicide is the 11th ranked cause of death in the United States, accounting for close to 35,000 deaths.

As part of an ongoing Raising Healthy Children Project survey by Social Developmental Research group at UW, Dr. Mazza and colleagues asked 883 young adults aged 18-19 about their history of suicide attempts, seventy eight respondents said that they have tried suicide at some point.

In the study, researchers found increase suicide attempts around sixth grade, about age 12 with rates peaking around eighth and ninth grade. Also, higher depression scores were related to attempts.

Dr. Mazza found increase in depression scores for youths at the time of suicide attempt compared with depression scores the year before and after in the survey, suggesting kids are able to show, by their depression score, that things are not going well for them.

"This study suggests that implementation of mental health programs may need to start in elementary and middle schools, and that youth in these grades are fairly good reporters of their own mental health," said Mazza.