Chil­dren as young as five are ‘ need­ing to speak about sui­cide’

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - KIDS HELPLINE: 1800 55 1800 BE­YOND BLUE ON 1300 22 4636

CHIL­DREN as young as five are call­ing coun­selling ser­vices to talk about sui­cide, as the over­all rate of young peo­ple reach­ing out to dis­cuss it 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, up from 2440 con­tacts over the same pe­riod in 2016. This year the ser­vice has re­ceived tele­phone con­tacts from two chil­dren aged five want­ing to dis­cuss sui­cide.

In one case, a child was ring­ing the ser­vice on her own to dis­cuss her friend’s fa­ther’s sui­cide. In the other case, a par­ent of a five-year- old from NSW was call­ing with their child af­ter the child had dis­closed they wanted to kill them­selves.

Youth in the 13-18 age group were re­spon­si­ble for the largest num­ber of con­tacts.

Louise Davis, clin­i­cal prac­tice man­ager at Kids Helpline, said in­creased ex­po­sure to fam­ily break­down, online bul­ly­ing, ex­po­sure to ter­ror­ism, do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and sub­stance abuse are play­ing key roles in the in­crease in sui­cide con­tacts.

Child psy­chol­ogy ser­vice Quirky Kid has also seen a mas­sive in­crease in young peo­ple dis­cussing sui­cide.

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 it up with a child un­der the age of eight, even if there had been a sui­cide in the fam­ily.

“Of­ten very young chil­dren can over-think and worry about these things in a way that is not help­ful,” she said.

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