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Suicide by children and young people in England

National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness

Suicide is one of the main causes of mortality in young people, and for families its impact is especially traumatic.

A previous NCISH report showed that between 2003 and 2013, an average of 428 people aged under 25 died by suicide in England per year. 137 were aged under 20, and 60 were aged under 18.

The UK as a whole has relatively low rates of suicide by children and young people but there are large differences between the UK countries—suicide rates are lower in England and Wales than in Scotland and Northern Ireland3. In England, the suicide rate in children and young people is lower than 10 years ago1,2 but this fall occurred in the early 2000s and there has been no fall since around 2006,
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Self-harm is more common in young people, the highest rates being in females aged 15 to 19. Self-harm is strongly associated with increased risk of future suicide and self-harm rates in young people appear to be rising

Several risk factors for suicide are common to all age groups—mental illness, self-harm, drug or alcohol misuse, social isolation.

However, child and young person-specific factors have also attracted public concern, e.g. bullying and increasingly the impact of online bullying, the role of internet sites and social media, and educational and exam stresses.

Children and young people at risk of suicide may be in contact with a range of services including primary care, mental health, social care and the justice system. However, they may find it hard to access the services they need or fall between agencies.

Children and young people who have been abused may not know who to turn to or find barriers to help-seeking. “Looked after” children may lose contact with services after leaving a care setting.

Until now, there has been no national multi-agency investigative process focussing on suicide in children and young people, and no national system for reporting suicide trends or recommending prevention priorities in this age group..

Approximately half of young people who self-harm do not come into contact with services8. Rates of contact with mental health services before suicide are lower among young people9.