Does a kid this young really understand what it means to kill themselves?
Six-year-old Samantha Kuberski was a happy kid who did well at school. Which is why tragedy was compounded by shock back in January, when medical examiners in Yamhill County, south of Portland, declared Samantha's death a suicide, making her the youngest person to take her own life in Oregon's history.
On December 2, the first-grader was allegedly sent to her room after getting in a fight with her mom. While her mother and three sisters were in other parts of their McMinnville house, Samatha reportedly crawled into an unused crib that had no mattress or box spring, tied a cordurouy belt around her neck and onto the crib's top railing and hung herself.
Samantha was found unconscious and rushed to a hospital where she was pronounced dead. Her parents and siblings were later interviewed by police, who ruled out any foul play and said they found no signs that the young girl had ever been abused.
Now the only thing left to parse is what to call Samantha's tragic death. While the medical examiner has ruled it a suicide, detectives insist on calling it an accident, saying that a child that small could have no idea of the consequences of her actions, an argument backed up by adolescent psychiatrists like Dr. Kirk Wolfe.
"Most kids this age are not aware of what death actually is," he told the Yamhill Valley News-Register. "Not until they get to be 8, 9 and 10 do they understand death is final and you don't come back."