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Still Vulnerable The Impact of Early Childhood Experiences on Adolescent Suicide and Accidental Death

The loss of a child or young person due to suicide or accidental death is a tragedy and I am deeply aware of the profound impact of this loss on everyone it touches. Sadly in recent years many stories of teenage suicide and death have been reported in our media and Northern Ireland continues to experience higher rates of suicide among adolescents and young adults than other parts of the United Kingdom. Adolescent suicide and accidental death must also be understood as affecting our wider communities and society as we struggle to reconcile ourselves with the loss of such young life. It challenges us to reflect on how we are currently seeking to meet the needs of vulnerable children and young people and to consider how this could be improved.

Central to my role in safeguarding children’s rights and best interests is my statutory duty to keep under review the adequacy and effectiveness of the law, policy and services relating to the rights and welfare of children and young people. As part of my work in fulfilling this duty I consider information from Case Management Review (CMR) reports which are most often conducted following the death or significant injury of a child where abuse is known or suspected to be a factor. The CMR process is in place to ensure there is proper reflection and learning from these difficult and distressing cases.