Sometimes when I look into a child’s eyes I see anxiety as they decide to tell me they want to kill themselves. They might be worried at my possible reaction; will I show disapproval, be upset? Instead, I feel a deep sadness; how can somebody so young have reached the point in their lives when they think this is the only option left?
I am an outreach child and adolescent mental health nurse in the north of England. I act as the first response following a suicide attempt in a young person. I carry out a risk assessment, arrange follow up support, then decide if a young person is safe to go home, or needs a place of safety.
Ninety-eight children under 15 killed themselves in the UK from 2005 to 2014, according to figures from the Office of National Statistics. These figures don’t include the number of children who have attempted suicide or who have suicidal thoughts. According to a 2013 report from the mental health charity MindFull, based on a YouGov survey of more than 2,000 young adults, one in five children has symptoms of depression and nearly a third (32%) have thought about suicide before the age of 16.
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