Child deaths – suicide intent

30 Nov 2011

This short paper focuses on understanding suicidal intent: how it is communicated and to whom, what it can mean for young people at risk of suicide, and that any threat of suicide needs to be taken seriously.

The reasons why children and young people take their own lives are complex. Each death is unique and is influenced by a series of physical, psychological and environmental conditions and associated risk factors.

There is evidence, however, that many young people provide an indication of their intent, prior to their suicide – usually to a significant person in their lives.

The Commission has identified that a significant proportion of children and young people state or imply their intent prior to their suicides either verbally to a family member, friend or health professional; via text message; or using various online platforms.

More specifically, the Commission’s review of the circumstances of deaths suggests that a number of children and young people had been communicating their suicidal intent in the weeks, months or years prior to their suicides. Some children were as young as 9 years of age when they first indicated they were suicidal.

It is the first paper in a Trends and Issues Paper series regularly publishing data about different types of preventable deaths and injury.

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