Belfast Telegraph

National suicide inquiry to be held

Seven hundred young people are killing themselves in the UK each year, experts have said.

A study found that on average 160 youngsters under 20 died by suicide every year, while 60 to 70 cases were reported to involve under-18s.

In response to figures relating to people aged 25 and under, the UK's first national investigation into suicide will look at the causes and suggest ways to bring the numbers down.

The inquiry will examine what role bullying, social media and the internet plays, as well as suicides which happen in clusters or follow a copycat pattern.

Professor Louis Appleby, who is leading the investigation at the University of Manchester, said: "Suicide is one of the main causes of death in young people.

"Despite this, there is no current system nationally for reporting suicide trends or recommending priorities for prevention in this specific age group.

"The investigation hopes to fill this gap.

"Suicides among young people are a major public concern, particularly when they appear to occur in clusters or to follow a copycat pattern.

"This public concern over child suicide often focuses on the role of internet sites or social media, but there is relatively little information on the part these factors play."

Around three young men and boys kill themselves compared to every young woman or girl, the researchers found.

An estimated 70% of suicides happened in England, 17% in Scotland, followed by 7% in Northern Ireland and 6% in Wales.

The figures on youth suicide between 2001 and 2011 were obtained for a general report into suicide and homicide published last year.

These in turn were based on data collected by the Office for National Statistics and include deaths by intentional self-harm and undetermined intent.

Researchers found that the number of young people killing themselves had actually gone down in the first half of the 10 year period, but there had been no real change after that.

The Centre for Suicide Prevention at the University of Manchester is aiming to publish a first report in two years' time after collecting data, and release a yearly study after that.

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