Teenage suicides rise to 17-year high

Rosemary Bennett and Fariha Karim in The Times 7th October reports on an item that shames the “comprehensive, free at the point of access, and cradle to grave NHS”: Teenage suicides rise to 17-year high. This represents the soft underbelly of the UK Health Services, who ration care where there is least fuss made. We all protect ourselves: deaths are quickly forgotten by all except the nearest family

The number of teenagers taking their own lives has hit a 17-year high, prompting ministers to produce a new nationwide suicide prevention strategy targeted at young people.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, has told officials that they must “improve” the existing 2012 strategy as a priority with a focus on the young.

Evidence is mounting that teenagers are struggling to cope with mental ill health, bullying and social media.

The number of teenagers who took their own lives rose to 186 in 2015, an increase of 48 per cent in the past three years, according to preliminary figures from the Office for National Statistics. The last time the figure was higher was in 1998.

Two heartbreaking cases of the suicides of young people have emerged this week. On Tuesday a mother published an open letter describing how her teenage son was driven to suicide after a “cruel and overwhelming” social media campaign by bullies.

Lucy Alexander, 51, urged children, parents and teachers to act against bullying after her son Felix, 17, lay in front of a train near Worcester in April.

On Monday, thousands of mourners gathered in Bradford to pay their respects at the funeral of Asad Khan, an 11-year-old boy who was found hanged in his bedroom after allegedly being bullied.

Stephen Habgood, chairman of the charity Papyrus, which runs a helpline for young people who feel suicidal, said that he would welcome an updated suicide prevention strategy from the government.

“But a strategy with no plan for implementation, no money and no targets will not achieve anything. Young people are in distress and are needlessly dying, leaving behind families who are broken and devastated,” he said.

The poor state of mental health services for children had to be addressed urgently, he said, so that parents seeking help for distressed children who do not want to live are no longer told that they have to go on a waiting list.

“If you have a child who has broken a leg, you would not be told to bring them back in six months. It’s just not acceptable.” The Times has been campaigning to highlight the mental health problems among young people with its Time to Mind campaign. The campaign has carried stories about the increasing role that cyberbullying has played in making young people feel depressed, anxious and suicidal

On Monday, thousands of mourners gathered in Bradford to pay their respects at the funeral of Asad Khan, an 11-year-old boy who was found hanged in his bedroom after allegedly being bullied.

Stephen Habgood, chairman of the charity Papyrus, which runs a helpline for young people who feel suicidal, said that he would welcome an updated suicide prevention strategy from the government.

“But a strategy with no plan for implementation, no money and no targets will not achieve anything. Young people are in distress and are needlessly dying, leaving behind families who are broken and devastated,” he said.

The poor state of mental health services for children had to be addressed urgently, he said, so that parents seeking help for distressed children who do not want to live are no longer told that they have to go on a waiting list.

“If you have a child who has broken a leg, you would not be told to bring them back in six months. It’s just not acceptable.” The Times has been campaigning to highlight the mental health problems among young people with its Time to Mind campaign. The campaign has carried stories about the increasing role that cyberbullying has played in making young people feel depressed, anxious and suicidal.

 

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This entry was posted in A Personal View, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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