New report sheds light on struggles faced by young people who took their own lives

A new report, published by Cambridge University, has investigated the situations of children prior to their death by suicide.

595 suicides by young people occurred between 2014-2016, with 71 per cent of them being male, and 74 per cent of them occurring between the ages of 17-19.

The study found a number of previous and recent stresses in the lives of these young people, including bereavement (including bereavement by suicide), witnessing domestic violence, drug misuse, bullying, self harm, and academic pressures. It found that these experiences were more common in girls than boys, whereas drug misuse was more common in boys. 

60 per cent of the young people had been in contact with specialist children’s services — and this was more common among the girls studied. 

The report concluded that there are identifiable antecedents to suicide in young people, which is important when considering a multi-agency approach and providing the support children in the education, social care, health sector and third sector.

Jake Mills, founder and CEO of Chasing the Stigma, the organisation behind the Hub of Hope and Ambassador of Hope training programme, said: “The simple fact is, suicide rising among young people is a tragedy. Children and teenagers should feel safe, secure and loved in their lives, and to hear of so many suicides in the 10-19 age range is horrifying”. 

“That 60 per cent of the young people studied were in contact with specialist children’s services shows that more needs to be done to highlight and act on risk when presenting in children. A previous report published by NCISH showed that some young women who were identified as traditionally low risk, went on to die by suicide. This is something that the health services need to look into as a matter of urgency.”

“However, this report highlights some areas of intervention. Helping children to access bereavement services following the death of a loved one, and seeking advice on how to approach bereavement with children is one area that simple improvements can be made. Increased access and funding for domestic violence services, so that children who have witnessed DV are given the support and safe place they need to process this. Further inter-agency collaboration to tackle substance misuse, so that children who are suffering from drug or alcohol dependency, or live with someone who does, have the specialist support they need to tackle this mounting issue.”