Child suicide is one of the most emotive areas of mental health, largely due to the widespread consequences for families and friends of a young person who has ended their lives by suicide.
In common with other mental health conditions, it must be remembered that suicidal behaviour runs on a continuum, ranging from having the idea of suicide (ideation) to the actual ending of life (suicide). Child suicide remains a major issue in our society, with an average of one attempt by an adolescent every half hour.
There are many factors which may lead to a young person accessing the suicidal continuum. Firstly, environmental factors like: bullying, stress, traumatic events or school pressures may be particularly pressing.
In addition, family factors such as: family breakdown, death of a person close to the young person, being a young carer, being a looked-after child or having a member of the family or friend who has recently completed suicide themselves will add to the day to day pressures faced by all young people.
A range of individual factors may also be prevalent for young people: personal mental health and emotional issues, alcohol and drug misuse, abusive behaviours, isolation from friends and family, poor relationships or self-harming. There is a clear link between youth depression and physical effects, with depressed young people often feeling tired, lethargic, experiencing changes in appetite or in their menstrual cycle as well as aches and pains.There are also some specific groups of young people who may be at particular risk: those who are regularly intoxicated (through drugs and/or alcohol), looked-after children, males(who are statistically less likely to seek help or support), those with existing mental health issues, those who have already attempted suicide, those who know someone who has attempted or completed suicide, young offenders and those who have lost their jobs as well as those who are geographically isolated or homeless.