Suicide among children and young people is the second most common cause of death worldwide in the 15-19 year old age group after accidents. All suicides are potentially preventable, and all agencies need to think about their contribution to suicide prevention.
In Norfolk, 9 children died between May 2010 and May 2015, and a review was undertaken in 2015/2016 by a multi-professional group (on behalf of the Child Death Overview Panel, part of the Norfolk Children’s Safeguarding Board) to consider common factors and make recommendations about suicide prevention in Norfolk.
- Raising resilience in children and young people
Most children who experience negative life events do not take their own life and only few will develop mental health problems. Resilient children and young people will be better placed at successfully manage the challenges they face in adolescence and deal with the ups and downs of life. All agencies should support children’s health, including their mental health, and well-being and use effective ways to raise resilience.
- Providing for the long-term needs of children and young people who have experienced bereavement
Children who experienced a bereavement when they were younger will revisit this as they enter their teenage years.
All agencies working with children need to consider the long-term needs of bereaved children and consider re-offering support.
Schools should have a cohesive approach to supporting bereaved children, they need to understand the long-term needs of bereaved children and review them, in particular when they have concerns about children’s mental health. It may help to have a bereavement policy.
- Guidance for staff
Clear guidance for staff in relation to self-harm/suicide ideation should be developed. This should include information on how and when to refer, including clear guidance on how to assess for suicide risk so that referrals can be made with all the necessary information. This should include details about consultation services offered by CAMHS.
What to do if you believe a child may be at risk of suicide – this guidance has now been published and can be accessed here: https://www.norfolklscb.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/Children-at-risk-of-suicide.pdf
It would be helpful to develop a sample self-harm policy for schools to use if they wish.
- Training for Tier 1 staff to support children with self-harm/suicide ideation
With comprehensive guidance, consistent training should be offered to all staff. The training should give staff the confidence to support children with self-harm issues and apply any newly developed guidance.
Suicide prevention should be part of safeguarding training, this applies in particular, but not exclusively to school staff with a direct responsibility for pastoral care and safeguarding.
Training is now available – please have a look at our training section
- Mental health awareness for children and young people
Friends are often aware of children’s self-harm and suicide ideation, some talked to parents or school staff.
We need to raise young people’s awareness of mental health issue and give them clear guidance on when and how to access support for themselves or others, especially when they are concerned about suicide ideation.
There is some limited evidence from school based prevention programmes. We recommend to trial a programme, ideally at a school where a high level of self-harm has already been identified. Any pilot programme needs to be effectively evaluated.
A number of schools are running initiatives relating to mental health and it would be useful to collate all information including evaluations and share information about successful projects.
A small research project has been completed on the PSHE Association mental health and emotional well-being teaching programme, with some positive outcomes:
- Increased knowledge about mental health
- Addressing the issue of mental health as a taboo subject
- Increased help-seeking behaviour
- Identified components of a helpful teaching programme
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information including training opportunities.
- Better information sharing and gathering information about ‘near misses’
- Regular reviewing of child deaths – suicide or self-inflicted harm