Children of Six Who Try to Kill Themselves

Daily Mail (London), August 30, 2007 | Go to article overview

Children of Six Who Try to Kill Themselves


Byline: SANDRA MURPHY

SCHOOL children as young as six years of age are trying to end theirlives, a shocking new study claims.

Research carried out at two Dublin children's hospitals found 439 youngsterswere treated for deliberately selfharming.

Some 197 of the children presented suicidal behaviour to the A&E at Crumlinbetween 1994 and 2003, and the other 242 presented to Temple Street between2002 and 2006.

Over half the children told doctors they wanted to die and 29 per cent had madea previous suicide attempt.

Report author Carol Fitzpatrick, professor of child psychiatry at UCD, said itwas terrifying that a senior infant class pupil had presented as a result ofselfharm.

'You don't really expect suicidal behaviour to emerge at this age.

'You expect it to start presenting at early adolescence but these were childrenwho were preadolescent and many were coping with tough family situations.' Asmost tried to overdose using common medication found at home like paracetamol,antibiotics or tranquillisers, parents were urged to keep tablets out of reach.

'Children tend to use what's available to them. They tend not to go out and buythings, they take whatever is at home,' she said.

And as one in ten treated for attempting suicide were aged under 11,campaigners last night said it was a damning indictment of our failure as anation to put children first.

As ChildLine received 13,065 calls last year from children who want to killthemselves, or who intend to try, Deirdre Swords, manager of the ISPCC'shelpline, said it was a desperate cry for help by children who are beingneglected in modern Ireland.

She said the breakdown of family structures was a critical factor in the risein depression and suicidal thoughts amongst children. …

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