August 17, 2012
Increase in under-18 suicide rate
[Posted: Wed 15/08/2012 by Niall Hunter, Editor www.irishhealth.com]
Rates of suicide among under 18 year-olds in Ireland increased between the early 1990s and 2008, according to new research.
The suicide rate among children increased from from 9.3 to 13.5 per 100,000 in males and 2.4 to 5.1 per 100,000 in females between 1992-1998 and 2003-2008.
Researchers at St Vincent's University Hospital in Dublin and UCD say the statistics have implications for the provision of mental health services into the future, including bereavement support, early education and intervention.
The study is one of the first internationally to examine suicide rates in children under 18. The rise in suicide has been most prominent in the 15 to 17 age group.
According to lead author Prof Kevin Malone: "A wave of young people is currently moving through Irish society where suicide rates amongst their peers have increased substantially from those of their parents. Not only is suicide likely to remain the leading cause of death in these children in the next decade, but suicide will also be the leading cause of peer bereavement".
He pointed out, however, that mental health services in Ireland were currently under-developed for the children within this age group (16-18 year olds) moving from child to adult support.
In Ireland, suicide is the leading cause of death among the male population aged 15-24 years. Ireland has the fourth highest rate of youth suicide in the expanded EU after Lithuania, Finland and Estonia, the researchers said.
Overall suicide rates in both males and females have increased in Ireland. Suicide occurs significantly more often in boys and more commonly between ages 15 -17 in both sexes.
Professor Malone said: "Although rates of suicide in the under 15 age category are rare in both the UK and Ireland, the rate in Ireland nonetheless is higher than in our neighbouring island. Moreover, the rates for 15-24 year-olds (teens and young adults) also indicates a threefold difference in rates."
In Ireland, rates of self-harm have shown a 12% increase in boys aged 15-19, and 21% increase in those 19-24 in the period 2008 and 2009.
The research is published in the Irish Medical Journal.