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Unexpected deaths of children and young people in the UK

  • Paul Stallard (a1), Michelle Maguire (a2), Justin Daddow (a2), Rosie Shepperd (a2), Mike Foster (a2) and Jill Berry (a2)...
Abstract
Aims and method

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.

Results

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.

Clinical implications

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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Copyright
This is an open-access article published by the Royal College of Psychiatrists and distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Corresponding author
Correspondence to Paul Stallard (p.stallard@bath.ac.uk)
Footnotes
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Declaration of interest

None.

Footnotes
References
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1 Office for National Statistics. Leading Causes of Death in England and Wales, 2009. ONS, 2009.
2 HM Government. Preventing Suicide in England: One Year On. First Annual Report on the Cross-Government Outcomes Strategy to Save Lives. HM Government, 2014.
3 McClure, GMG. Suicide in children and adolescents in England and Wales 1970–1988. Br J Psychiatry 2001; 178: 469–74.
4 Windfuhr, K, While, D, Hunt, IM, Shaw, J, Appleby, L, Kapur, N. Suicide and accidental deaths in children and adolescents in England and Wales, 2001–2010. Arch Dis Child 2013; 98: 945–50.
5 Office for National Statistics. Suicides in the United Kingdom, 2012 Registrations. ONS, 2014.
6 National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness. Annual Report: England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales. University of Manchester, 2014.
7 HM Government. Working Together to Safeguard Children: A Guide to Inter-Agency Working to Safeguard and Promote the Welfare of Children. HM Government, 2015.
8 Department for Education. Child Death Reviews: Year Ending 31 March 2014, Statistical Release. Department for Education, 2014.
9 Gunnell, D, Hawton, K, Kapur, N. Coroners' verdicts and suicide statistics in England and Wales. BMJ 2011; 343: d6030.
10 Gosney, H, Hawton, K. Inquest verdicts: youth suicides lost. Psychiatr Bull 2007; 31: 203–5.
11 NHS England. Serious Incident Framework: Supporting Learning to Prevent Recurrence. NHS England, 2015.
12 Office for National Statistics. Table PP01UK 2011 Census: Usual resident population by single year of age, unrounded estimates, local authorities in the United Kingdom. ONS, 2011.
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BJPsych Bulletin
  • ISSN: 2056-4694
  • EISSN: 2056-4708
  • URL: /core/journals/bjpsych-bulletin
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Unexpected deaths of children and young people in the UK

  • Paul Stallard (a1), Michelle Maguire (a2), Justin Daddow (a2), Rosie Shepperd (a2), Mike Foster (a2) and Jill Berry (a2)...
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