“As a parent, I had a child who was living through losing classmates to youth suicide. Every morning when I opened his bedroom door, I wondered if he was going to be okay.”
Youth suicide is a stark reality that affects our children, us as parents and our community.
Unfortunately we can not always know what our kids are thinking or how they are processing these tragedies.
Suicide is a leading cause of death for our children and young people.
Sadly, in 2017, the number and rate of children under 18 who died by suicide in New South Wales was the highest in 20 years. Globally about 800,000 people commit suicide each year.
The loss of a young person can seem particularly devastating. Our young people should have their whole lives ahead of them.
When a young person takes their own life, the impact can be felt across families, friends, schools and entire communities.
In recent years much has been said about the impact of social media on youth suicide. It has both a positive and negative role to play.
The constantly evolving nature of social media can make it difficult to understand its true impact on youth suicide and self-harm.
While it can be used to promote help-seeking and link young people in crisis to support, it may also expose young people to trauma or otherwise increase their distress.
Our children and young people can be reluctant to seek help, or may not know where to start.
Of those young people from New South Wales who did seek help last year, only 58 per cent were successful in contacting Kids Helpline.
To solve a problem, you have to first understand it. For this reason, the Committee on Children and Young people has recommended improvements to the way data on suicide and self-harm is collected in New South Wales, including the creation of a suicide register and mortality review team.
Our kids need to have access to help and support —whether through SRE, chaplaincy or school nurses. I do not care what the program is: Kids must have a gateway to share their emotional needs and health in our schools and communities. Kids need to be able to get the help they need.
One person committing suicide because they want to stop the world and get off, or because the pain they are feeling in their mind, heart and world is too much, is one too many.
They are not realising that in doing so they are ending their future, they are ending family relationships and all the blessings that come with growing older. They will not grow to experience all the wonders of growing as brothers and sisters, fathers, mothers, and they will miss out on all the beautiful things that come with life.
We must do more to tackle this growing concern.