Preventing Youth Suicide: Together We Can Save Lives
We need help from the Australian community to get behind a new 10 pronged approach to preventing youth suicide.
Kids Helpline contacts from children and young people have risen by 22% in five years, going from 8,728 in 2012 to 10,636 in 2017. 27% of these came from children aged 14 or under.
While Kids Helpline and many others are working hard to protect our young people, we knew there was more we could do.
We asked children and young people about their experiences with suicide – what helps, what doesn’t. We looked at what young people reaching out to Kids Helpline told us and invited those working with children and young people every day about what they saw and knew could save young lives.
Our newly released Position Statement outlines a 10 pronged approach to preventing suicide by children and young people. We believe:
- Australia needs a specific, youth suicide prevention strategy with every state agreeing to a plan to prevent and treat suicide.
- Strategies to reduce stigma and to create a help-seeking culture are required, encouraging everyone to take steps to effectively support and respond when young people seek help.
- Youth suicide prevention interventions need to be tailored to different groups and recognise the unique needs of different genders, cultures and other groups.
- Early intervention is key to prevention and to supporting lifelong mental health and wellbeing. We need more outreach services and services such as headspace targeted to children and young people.
- There should be no wrong door to accessing services with key service staff trained to identify young people at risk.
- Services need to be integrated to enable a seamless care journey where there are no service gaps for when children transition from child to adult services.
- Professional counselling and psychological therapy are effective interventions that must be available. Our work with Kids Helpline and young people shows that this support is invaluable and really does save lives.
- Strategies to address suicide by children and young people must include families. Parents matter. Young people with lived experience of suicide told us parental support is crucial. Families need support to know how to respond effectively.
- Research to better understand youth suicide, and what works to prevent and treat it, is needed. We hear lots about how social media can be harmful but let’s research how it can support young people.
- Last but certainly not least, community support organisations and health services must commit to working together.
Suicide is preventable if we work together.
Access the complete Preventing Suicide by Children and Young People: Position Statement, research and other resources here.
Kids Helpline is Australia’s only FREE, private and confidential phone and online counselling service for children and young people aged 5 to 25 years. Free call 1800 55 1800 or visit kidshelpline.com.au.