About 7% of kids have actually attempted suicide by the age of 17 and nearly one in four say they have self-harmed in the past year, according to a paper in the British Journal of Psychiatry, and specialists say the figures could increase as an outcome of the pandemic.
The figures originate from analysis of the millennium cohort study, which follows the lives of about 19,000 youths born at the start of the millennium in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
The report states that when the 17-year-olds from the cohort were asked if they had actually ever injured themselves “on purpose in an attempt to end your life”, 7% replied yes. When asked if they had actually self-harmed throughout the previous year, 24% responded that they had.
The information, which is nationally representative, can be extrapolated to the UK population to give figures of 52,427 17-year-olds having attempted suicide at some time in their lives and 170,744 having actually self-harmed in the previous 12 months prior to Covid hit.
Psychiatrists say the figures reflect a trend they are experiencing, showing the difficulties dealt with by young people. They alert that coronavirus and its fallout will most likely make matters worse, and advise investment now in services for youths experiencing psychological illness.
Dr Bernadka Dubicka, chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists’ child and teen psychological health faculty, explained the findings as part of a “actually concerning pattern” that they had been seeing for a very long time. She said information showed there had been an increase nearly every year in the varieties of teenagers injuring themselves deliberately.
One of the research study’s authors, Dr Praveetha Patalay, stated: “Our study highlights big inequality in these adverse psychological health results at age 17, with women and sexual minorities being particularly susceptible, potentially showing the greater variation in the pressures they deal with, and highlighting the need for assistance that is delicate to the difficulties experienced by them throughout adolescence.”
She added: “There is absolutely a requirement to provide more, much better and earlier support for youths to avoid their mental health troubles from getting so severe, but similarly we actually require to think about why young people today are having a hard time so much.”
Dubicka stated data from NHS Digital revealed that 41% of all admissions to hospital for self-harm were teenagers. “What we are seeing year on year medically is more youths providing self-harm in A&E and admissions to paediatric beds and mental health systems.”
She stated there was insufficient research into why this was happening but, based upon her work, she felt that austerity and hardship were causing more people experiencing difficulties.
” So we have widespread societal driving elements which are most certainly influencing on kids. The other problem is education has actually been a huge stress for young people,” she said, adding that a basic rise in psychological health issue was adding to an increase in self-harming.
” I believe it is necessary that all kids are able to grow in the education system. We understand 50% of youths make it to university and another 50% do not, and within that group there are lots of disadvantaged children with learning troubles or autism or looked-after and traumatised children. We need equivalent chances for all children,” she stated.
The report stated: “Age 17 marks an important age prior to numerous crucial life shifts, consisting of the ending of required education and moving away from house. With the ending of support from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) around this critical age, many young people fail the spaces in between CAMHS and adult mental health services, potentially further intensifying outcomes at the exact time when support is most required. These findings underline the urgent psychological health support requirement in this generation.”
Dubicka stated it was important the federal government sped up prepare for mental health assistance groups in schools. She said self-harm was a method of manifesting distress for those who found it more difficult to verbalise. “Some kids are showing distress and harming themselves and that comes from low self-confidence, failure and self-hatred.”
Social network might also be a poisonous environment for some youths and have a huge impact, she stated. “Children and youths require tools to be able to manage social media and the internet safely and parents need tools and assistance to monitor what their children are doing online.”
In 2018, 759 young people took their own life in the UK and Republic of Ireland, data shows. In the UK, suicide rates amongst young people have been increasing over the last few years. The suicide rate for young women is now at its highest rate on record.
Dubicka said the pandemic was most likely to have a huge impact on psychological health, and they were currently seeing the impact. She stated more trained specialists were needed to meet need.
” It is necessary that we train more child psychiatrists and more individuals to operate in children’s and adolescent psychological health services,” she said. “I am extremely worried about the effect of the pandemic … we understand there has been a rise in referrals. In fall last year need was the greatest it’s ever been.”
Claire Murdoch, NHS England’s national mental health director, stated: “The NHS continues to support young people’s mental health with treatment continuing throughout the pandemic, including phone and video assessments, online support with services like Kooth, in addition to in person consultations and psychological health support teams in schools.”
A government representative stated: “Early intervention and treatment is vital, and we are supplying an extra ₤ 2.3 bn to help an additional 345,000 kids and youths gain access to NHS-funded services or school and college-based assistance.