A Swansea University academic has played a key role in in a review published by the Child Death Review Programme – part of Public Health Wales – looking at rates of suicides in children and young people in Wales.
Dr Ann John, consultant in public health for Public Health Wales and associate professor at Swansea University’s College of Medicine, was the clinical lead for the review, which has called for more to be done to ensure NICE guidance is implemented on the management of self-harm.
The review’s other key recommendations include; developing an all-Wales child protection register which would be accessible by all relevant services; restricting access to alcohol by young people; ensuring any programmes and interventions around suicide prevention are based on the latest evidence; and reviewing progress on suicide prevention on a three yearly basis.
The report highlighted that although rare, suicide is a major cause of death in teenage years, with around one in four deaths from external causes* of children aged 12-17 likely to have been a suicide. (*External causes deaths include intentional, self harm, accidental and or an event of undetermined intent. They do not include natural causes.)
The report reviewed 34 probable suicides in children and young people in Wales over a six year period. The report examined factors that have contributed to suicide deaths in children and young people, identified opportunities for prevention, and made recommendations to reduce the risk of suicide for children and young people in Wales.
Dr Ann John said: “Whenever someone takes their own life it is a tragedy and causes distress for many people – family, friends, professionals and the wider community.
“This review is a key piece of work in helping us all to understand the factors that have contributed to these deaths, identify opportunities for prevention and make recommendations to reduce the risk of suicide for children and young people in Wales.
“Suicides are not inevitable and we all have a part to play in trying to prevent further deaths.’’
Health Minister Mark Drakeford said: “The death of a child, whatever the circumstances, is a particularly tragic event and one which affects friends, family and the wider community. Understanding the circumstances surrounding a child's death can help people begin to make sense of the tragedy and may help to prevent the deaths of other children.
“The Welsh Government supports the development of this child death review programme in Wales and we welcome the publication today of the thematic review of deaths of children and young people through probable suicide.
“This is a very difficult area of research but it is essential that we try and understand the causes of childhood suicide to help identify opportunities for prevention and to try reduce the risk.”
Dr Ann John added: “If you or someone you know are affected by the issues in this report, support is available from a number of charities and organisations.”
The following help is available for anyone concerned:
- Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 (http://www.samaritans.org/)
- PAPYRUS HOPELineUK on 01925 572444 – call if you are a young person (or have concerns about a young person) (http://www.papyrus-uk.org/)
- CALL Helpline (Wales) on 0800 132 737 (http://callhelpline.org.uk/)
- Child Line on 0800 1111.
A copy of the report, entitled “Thematic review of deaths of children and young people through probable suicide, 2006-2012”, can be found here.
- The aim of the Child Death Review programme is to identify and describe patterns and causes of child death, including any trends, and to recommend actions to reduce the risk of avoidable factors contributing to child deaths in Wales. This is the second thematic review to be produced by the Programme. In July 2013 the Programme looked at deaths of teenagers in motor vehicles.
- Public Health Wales is an NHS organisation providing professionally independent public health advice and services to protect and improve the health and wellbeing of the population of Wales. More information on Public Health Wales is available at www.publichealthwales.org.
- Thursday 20 March 2014 00.00 GMT
- Friday 28 March 2014 11.12 GMT
- Swansea University, Tel: 01792 295049