To review the deaths of children and young people who took their own life. We conducted a retrospective analysis of serious incident reports from a National Health Service trust and reviews by the child death overview panels of the local safeguarding children boards.
We identified 23 deaths, with annual rates varying considerably between local authorities and over time. Over half of the children (n = 13, 56%) were not known to specialist child and adolescent mental health services, with 11 having no contact with any agency at the time of their death. Hanging was the most common method (n = 20, 87%) and of these, half (n =11, 55%) were low-level hangings.
Training is required to improve awareness, recognition and the assessment of children at risk of taking their own life. Specialist child mental health services should directly assess plans or attempts at hanging and offer advice about the seriousness of attempting this. National data (by age) on children and young people who take their own life should be routinely published to inform clinical and preventive services.
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