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Charity calls for urgent government support as teenage suicide rate jumps by over a third

New data finds suicides for young people aged 15-19 rose to their highest level in 30 years.

16/09/22

Charity calls for urgent government support as teenage suicide rate jumps by over a third

Suicide rates among young people aged 15-19 in England rose by 35 per cent from 2020 to 2021, according to data from the Office for National Statistics analysed by charity YoungMinds.

In 2020, 147 young people aged 15-19 in England took their own lives. This rose to 198 in 2021 – the highest number in over 30 years.

The youth mental health charity is calling for urgent government support as the new data comes alongside a growing crisis in the NHS and schools. Last week, NHS data revealed 2022 is set to see the highest ever number of referrals to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). Figures to date show the number of under 18s needing NHS treatment is 23% higher than at the same point last year.

A total of 241,791 young people were referred to the NHS in the first three months of this year - already half the total figure referred in the whole of last year. A large number are yet to be treated and remain on waiting lists.

“These numbers paint a shocking picture of the state of young people’s mental health in this country. This cannot go on. Government must get a grip of the situation,” Emma Thomas, Chief Executive of YoungMinds said.

“Young people are struggling to access the support they desperately need, and the dramatic rise in suicides is truly alarming. We know that professionals, from the NHS to school classrooms, are doing all they can to support the record numbers of young people struggling with their mental health but without government support, they can only offer a sticking plaster.”

The calls echo last week’s ‘Suicide among young people in Scotland' report, which found that suicide was the leading cause of death among children and young adults, accounting for one in four (25.7%) lives lost, during the period 2011 to 2020. The report found that those across the 5-24 age group who died by suicide were less likely to have had contact with a healthcare service in the period before death, compared to older adults who died by suicide.

The report, published by Public Health Scotland (PHS), presents an analysis of information held on the Scottish Suicide Information Database (ScotSID). Established in 2009, ScotSID provides a central repository for information on all suicide deaths in Scotland. This latest report presents data on deaths from suicide, registered with the National Records of Scotland (NRS) during the period 2011 to 2020, among people aged 5-24 years.

Professor Steve Platt, Chair of the ScotSID Steering Group and Emeritus Professor of Health Policy Research at the University of Edinburgh, said there were 820 young people resident in Scotland who died by suicide – an average of nearly seven each month, considerably more than the number of young people dying by road accidents.

“Through ScotSID we are learning more about the circumstances and characteristics of suicide deaths. This knowledge will help us to develop more effective preventative action in future.”

If you are struggling with your mental health, you can contact the Samaritans for support. Call 116123 or email jo@samaritans.org

Read the full 'Suicide among young people in Scotland' report: https://www.publichealthscotland.scot/publications/scottish-suicide-information-database/suicide-among-young-people-in-scotland-a-report-from-the-scottish-suicide-information-database-6-september-2022/

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