Sui­ci­dal kids, 5, call­ing helpline

The Sunday Mail (Queensland) - - NEWS - LANAI SCARR

CHIL­DREN as young as five are call­ing coun­selling ser­vices to talk about sui­cide.

The Sun­day Mail can re­veal Kids Helpline has had sev­eral con­tacts from very young chil­dren, as the over­all rate of young peo­ple reach­ing out to dis­cuss sui­cide soars.

In the six months from April to Septem­ber, Kids Helpline re­ceived 3316 con­tacts from young peo­ple aged five to 25 di­rectly re­lat­ing to sui­cide. This was up from 2440 dur­ing the same pe­riod in 2016.

Youths in the 13-18 age group made up the largest num­ber of con­tacts via tele­phone, online and email.

This year the ser­vice has re­ceived tele­phone con­tacts from two chil­dren aged five to dis­cuss sui­cide. In one case, a Queens­land child was ring­ing the ser­vice on her own to dis­cuss her friend’s fa­ther’s sui­cide.

Two seven-year-olds – one from Tas­ma­nia and the other from Queens­land – had also con­tacted the ser­vice. One said they wanted to “kill my­self” over bul­ly­ing at school. The other said they wanted to “end my life” be­cause of bul­ly­ing.

Louise Davis, clin­i­cal prac­tice man­ager at Kids Helpline, said young peo­ple were un­der more pres­sure these days which was con­tribut­ing to their sui­ci­dal thoughts.

The in­creased ex­po­sure to cost of liv­ing pres­sures, fam­ily break­down, online bul­ly­ing via so­cial me­dia, ex­po­sure to ter­ror­ism, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and sub­stance abuse were play­ing key roles in the in­crease in sui­cide con­tacts to the ser­vice.

“Of­ten we don’t think chil­dren as young as five might be think­ing about killing them­selves but we need to be more aware a child of any age might be ex­pe­ri­enc­ing sui­ci­dal thoughts,” Ms Davis said.

Child psy­chol­ogy ser­vice Quirky Kid has also had a mas­sive in­crease in young peo­ple dis­cussing sui­cide, with 15 per cent of all child con­tacts this year re­lat­ing to sui­ci­dal thoughts, many from chil­dren un­der the age of 10.

Two years ago barely any con­tacts fit­ted this cat­e­gory.

Prin­ci­pal psy­chol­o­gist at Quirky Kid Kim­ber­ley O’Brien said if a child spoke about sui­cide it was im­por­tant to ad­dress it head-on.

But she also cau­tioned against bring­ing up the no­tion with a child un­der the age of eight, even if there had been a sui­cide in the fam­ily. “I don’t think a par­ent should lie to the child but you can just say that per­son has passed away very sud­denly and not men­tion sui­cide di­rectly,” she said.

If you need some­one to talk to or are con­cerned about your chil­dren call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or con­tact Be­yond Blue on 1300 22 4636.

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