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Struggling to cope: Child suicide

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‘Struggling to cope’: child suicide rates may rise as intentional self-poisoning rates double

The number of Australian children deliberately poisoning themselves with drugs like paracetamol and antidepressants has doubled in the past decade, which medical experts say may predict a future rise in youth suicide rates.

The authors of the study, published in the medical journal BMJ Open on Thursday, said the findings suggest a generation struggling to cope.

Researchers led by the University of Sydney and the NSW Poisons Information Centre analysed 70% of calls made to poison information centres between 2006 and 2016. They found 33,501 deliberate poisonings in youth aged between five and 19, and that more children were poisoning themselves from a younger age.

The most commonly ingested substances were those found commonly in households such as paracetamol, ibuprofen, antidepressants and antipsychotics. Intentional poisonings increased 98% overall across one decade, largely driven by a significant increase in poisonings in young people born after 1997. Girls outnumbered boys three to one.

“Our results indicate a generation that is increasingly engaging in self harm … Since people who self-harm are at an increased risk of suicide later in life, these results may foretell future increases in suicide rates in Australia,” the study concluded.

Self-poisoning is the most common method of self-harm in Australia, accounting for 80% of cases, and suicide is the leading cause of death in those aged between 15 and 44.

The study also examined trends in medicine dispensing through the pharmaceutical benefits scheme (PBS) database.

https://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/what-speak-us-about/signs-you-may-be-struggling-cope

 

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