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Thematic review of deaths of children and young people through probable suicide, 2006-2012

Every suicide is a tragedy and causes distress for many people - family, friends, professionals and the wider community. It can be particularly difficult to cope with the traumatic experience of losing a child or young person through suicide. Although a rare event, suicide is a major cause of death in teenage years, with around 60 of the 260 (almost one in four) of the external cause deaths of children and young people aged 12-17 in the last decade in Wales likely to have been through suicide. Talk to me, the five year national action plan to reduce suicide and self harm in Wales, was published in 2009.

The Child Death Review Programme undertook this thematic review to examine factors that have contributed to suicide deaths, identify opportunities for prevention and make recommendations to reduce the risk of suicide for children in Wales.

Children and young people aged 10 to 17 who died through suicide, 2006-2012, were included in the review. Information on the children and young people was obtained from multiple sources and summarised using anonymised life charts. These were presented to a multi disciplinary thematic review panel, together with evidence reviews on risk factors and effectiveness of interventions to prevent suicide. The panel met twice, formed key messages and recommendations and agreed the final report.

Thirty-four children and young people were included in the review. Two thirds of these children were aged 16 or 17, and three quarters were male. A number of factors relevant to the deaths of these children were identifi ed including socio-demographic and educational factors, individual negative life events and family adversity involvement with services, factors proximal to the death and access to means of death.

Key messages
The key messages highlight possible opportunities for suicide prevention and processes that might support this. They include: access to means of suicide, improving partnership working, focusing on evidence based interventions, public awareness and stigma, and undertaking future thematic reviews.