Recent research from Stirling University has re-iterated what PAPYRUS knows to be true – that children and young people are left out of global government policies for health and suicide prevention. We’ve been campaigning on this issue for years, and encouraging suicide-safer policies in schools and colleges has been a significant part of our ongoing #SaveTheClass campaign.
Even as we see global progress in terms of discussing mental health, or acknowledging the need to talk about suicide, there is still little space in this conversation for children and young people. This is despite the fact that, in the UK, suicide remains the biggest killer of young people under the age of 35.
Indeed, over 200 schoolchildren are lost to suicide every year in the UK. As difficult as it is for many to talk about suicide, many more find it harder to acknowledge the numbers of children who die in this way. But, the absence of children from global health and suicide prevention policies is a glaring omission.
Last week we heard in various newspapers from Lynne Gilmour, of the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit (NMAHP-RU) at Stirling, who said:
“Suicide is a global health policy priority, with nearly 800,000 lives lost to suicide annually, and reducing rates is a target of the World Health Organisation Mental Health Action Plan.
“This scoping review mapped key policy documents worldwide and established how they addressed the treatment and care needs of children and young people who are suicidal.
“It highlighted a potential gap in policy that could lead to the needs of this very vulnerable group being overlooked, and varying interpretations of how they should be provided for.
“National guidelines – in countries including the UK, New Zealand and Ireland – contain recommendations that children and young people who are considered to be at risk of suicide are assessed by a child and adolescent mental health practitioner, however, stop short of recommending treatments and interventions beyond this.”
Clearly there is a problem both nationally and globally. Here at PAPYRUS we remain committed to campaigning on this front as well as providing confidential advice and support for children and concerned others via our helpline HOPELINEUK. We welcome the findings of the research by Stirling University as they support our focus on young people. We will continue, with the help of our incredible supporters, the vital work of helping to save young lives.