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