General News Suicide — 14 March 2014
Report shines light on Queensland’s childhood suicides

It is the brutal statistic every Queenslander needs to know.

Twenty-two children and young people aged between 12 and 17 years old  suicided in Queensland during 2012-13.

Twelve of those children were aged between 12 and 14, making suicide the  leading cause of external deaths for that age group.

The annual report from the Commission for Children  and Young People and Child Guardian on the number of deaths of Queensland  children found 448 were recorded as having died, a rate of 41.9 deaths per  100,000. bigstockphoto_Sad_Girl_On_Bench_2820029

Of those, diseases and morbid conditions accounted for 331 deaths. The main  causes were “conditions originating in the perinatal period and congenital  malformations, deformations and chromosomal abnormalities”, which were  responsible for 66.8 per cent of all deaths from diseases and morbid  conditions.

Twenty-eight children and young people were killed in car and other transport  incidents and fatal assault and neglect resulted in the deaths of 10  children.

Eight of those children were fatally assaulted by a family member and six  were aged under one.

Four of the children were “known to the children protection system”, “with  two of these children only becoming known due to the death incident”.

Of the children who took their own life, 12 had made a previous attempt,  self-harmed or had shown suicidal behaviour.

In 15 of the 22 suicide deaths, the child had stated their intent, either  verbally, online or by a text message – seven within 24 hours of their death.  A  suicide note was left in two cases.

Three of the children were aged 12, one was 13 years old and eight were 14.   Six were indigenous, 14 lived in a city and 11 were known to child protection  authorities.

The Commission found that children who were known to authorities had an  increased risk of suicide.

“This is because children known to these agencies may often be living in  circumstances that are characterised by substance misuse, mental health  problems, lack of attachment to significant others, behavioural and disciplinary  problems or a history of abuse,” the report read.

But other factors were also identified – nine of the children were suspected  to have or had a mental health issue before their death, with depression the  main issue identified.

Nine of the children were reported to have known alcohol, drug and/or  substance issues, with alcohol the most commonly used substance.

Of the 22 children who suicided, 13 had a history of childhood abuse,  including neglect, physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

“Perpetrators of the abuse were typically from within the family, being the  child’s parent, step-parent or guardian,” the report found.

‘Contagion’ was identified as a “key risk” by the Commission – for six of the  22 children and young people, the suicide or attempted suicide of another person  close to them was found to be an influence in their deaths.

All but two of the children who suicided had a “precipitating incident” which  was considered to be a factor in their deaths.

For 10 of those children, it was an argument with a significant other, such  as a parent, family member, partner or close friend.

Another five had moved interstate or changed schools before their death,  while three had been bullied and another three had experienced the death of a  loved one.

Family problems and fighting parents was found to be a factor in two deaths,  while another two experienced domestic and family violence.

Support is available for anyone who may be distressed by phoning  Lifeline 131 114 or Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800.

This article first appeared on the Brisbane Times on 13 March, 2014.

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