Research Suicide — 08 December 2014

National Children’s Commissioner, Megan Mitchell has called for more research and better policies and interventions for children and young people at risk of suicide or self harm.

The Commissioner’s call follows a report from the Australian Human Rights Commission, using previously unpublished data from the National Coronial Information Service (NCIS).bigstock_group_jumping_16235579

The data shows that in the period 2007-12 there were 14 deaths in the 12-13 year age range and 106 deaths in the 14-15 year age range.

“The increase in the number of deaths in children aged 14-15 compared with those aged 12-13 tells us that we need to target our interventions much better,” Commissioner Mitchell said.

“It is clear that we need to review the timing of interventions and support, and work with children much earlier to build resilience and encourage help seeking.”

Data from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) shows that between 2007-08 and 2012-13, there were 18,277 hospitalisations for intentional self-harm involving children and young people in the 3-17 year age range, with 82 per cent of these hospitalisations as a result of intentional self-poisoning.

“To find effective prevention and intervention strategies, we need regular and more detailed surveillance of death and hospitalisation due to intentional self-harm in children aged 4-17 years and a national research agenda,” Commissioner Mitchell said.

“The type of data released in my report should be made available every year because without comprehensive surveillance of intentional self-harm in children, our prevention and early intervention strategies cannot be properly planned or evaluated.”

The report identifies a number of areas where empirical evidence is lacking.

These include how and why children and young people engage in intentional self-harm, with or without suicidal intent; the psychological mechanisms underlying suicide clusters; the impact of protective factors; the impact of current interventions and support programs and the effectiveness of postvention services and gatekeeping training programs.

This article first appeared on ‘PS News’ on 5 December 2014.

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