Suicide by children and young people in England

Date of publication: May 2016

In April 2015, the National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Safety in Mental Health (NCISH) established the UK’s first national study combining multiple sources of information to examine the factors related to suicide by children and young people aged 10-19 years.

In this, the first of two reports from this study, 10 themes common to many suicides by children and young people are presented that should be a target for prevention.

Key messages

Age and gender
The suicide rate in children and young people aged under 20 was low overall but rose sharply in the late teens. The number of suicides by males was higher than by females.

The figure shows the number of suicides by children and young people increased into the late teens

Common factors in suicide by young people
Many factors appeared to contribute to suicide in young people – it was rarely caused by one thing. Our findings suggest there are 10 common themes in suicide by children and young people.

The figures show 28% of children and young people who died by suicide had been bereaved, 22% had been bullied, and 15% had been abused and/or neglected

Academic pressures
Notepad and pen iconMore than a quarter of children and young people who died by suicide, and who were in education, were facing exams or exam results at the time of death.
Suicide-related internet use
Suicide-related internet use was found in around a quarter of deaths by suicide by children and young people. This could be searching for information about suicide methods, posting messages with suicidal content, or being a victim of online bullying.

Suicide-related internet use was found in around a quarter (23%) of deaths by suicide by children and young people

Physical health conditions
More than a third of children and young people who died by suicide had sought medical help for a physical health condition. The most common conditions were respiratory, like asthma, and dermatological, such as acne.

The figure shows the most common health conditions in children and young people who died by suicide were dermatological like acne, in 11%, and respiratory like asthma, in 10%

Expression of suicidal risk
Many children and young people who died by suicide had not expressed recent suicidal ideas. An absence of suicidal ideas, although important when present, cannot be assumed to show lack of risk.

The figures shows the majority, 73%, of children and young people who died by suicide had not expressed recent suicidal ideas.

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