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More awareness needed in factors contributing to teen suicide, study finds

The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by people with mental illness examined the suicides in England by people aged under 20 years who died between January 2014 and April 2015. 

The first national study to examine the complex factors involved in the suicides of children and young people reveals that in many of the cases recent suicidal ideas had not been expressed.

The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by people with mental illness examined the suicides in England by people aged under 20 years who died between January 2014 and April 2015. This is the first phase of a UK-wide investigation into suicides by people aged under 25.

Out of the 145 deaths during the study period, suicide rates were highest in the late teens, with the majority of deaths in males (70%). Bereavement, physical health conditions (most commonly acne and asthma), academic pressures and bullying were among the ten most common themes in suicide by children and young people.

One of the key messages is that an absence of suicidal ideas cannot be assumed to show lack of risk. The report calls for agencies that work with young people to recognise patterns of cumulative risk and stresses that can lead to suicide.

Responding to the report, professional lead for mental health Ian Hulatt said: ‘Suicide is complex and this report paints a picture of young people with a variety of problems who find themselves unable to get the support they need.

‘Nurses working in mental health, and those working with children can give vital support and identify those at risk, and it is heartbreaking that young people have not known where to go or struggled to get help.’

He added that early intervention is absolutely crucial, ‘which is why there needs to be a far greater focus on young people’s mental health throughout the school system, and a real recognition in the health service of the devastating impact when these needs are not met’.

Further information: 

The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide report

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