“Clear warning signs” are being missed to prevent most suicides among young people, a charity has warned, as research shows more than half of under-20s who killed themselves in recent years had previously self-harmed.

The University of Manchester says more than 25% of the 130 young people in England who died by suicide between January 2014 and April 2015 had expressed suicidal ideas in the week before their death.

A major report by its academics suggests bereavement, bullying, school pressure and physical illness are among the most common factors which contribute to a suicide.

However, deaths are rarely down to a single cause – and many cases involve a “final straw” factor such as exam stress or a relationship breakdown.

The National Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide by People with Mental Illness (NCISH) found 70% of those who died were young men, with suicide rates rising sharply in older teenagers.

Of the 130 deaths examined for the report, 66 victims were aged between 10 and 17 – and five were younger than 14.

NCISH found instances where young people had suffered online bullying prior to taking their own life, while others had expressed suicidal thoughts on social media.

The inquiry’s head of suicide research, Professor Nav Kapur, said: “It is crucial that there is improved help for self-harm and access to mental care.

“However, with the variety of factors we found with this study, it is clear that schools, primary care, social services and youth justice all have a role to play.”

The Samaritans has expressed concern that there were clear indications in most suicide cases that a young person was struggling to cope.

But Rethink Mental Illness has described a “disastrous situation” where more than a quarter of young people who seek mental health services are turned away.

“We must redouble our efforts to support children and young people and ensure they are getting the help they need,” Brian Dow added.

NCISH’s report is the first stage in a UK-wide analysis of suicides in people aged under 25.

:: Anyone feeling emotionally distressed or suicidal can call Samaritans for help on 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org in the UK.

Source: ‘Clear Signs’ Missed Stopping Youth Suicide

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