Gerry Georgatos – Children as young as 9 years have been lost to suicide, three in fact in recent years. Australians should ask, why? Proportionally, more children aged 14 years and less have been lost so far this century compared to last century.
Death by suicide of children cannot, and never should, remain shrouded in silences and the rubbishes of presumptive stigma and sensitivities. We do no one any favours, and in fact cost young lives.
Nearly one in four of child deaths is a suicide – how harrowing… In 2018, there were 100 child suicides – aged less than 18. There were 448 child deaths nationally, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). That’s 22.3 percent of child deaths a suicide, nearly one in four.
Last year I was aware of four twelve-year-old suicides – two of them in Western Australia – one in South Australia – one in Queensland. Two of them were First Nations children. In 2017, I responded to, and supported the family of a child aged 9 who suicided. In 2016, a 10-year-old girl suicided, and in 2014, an 11-year-old boy suicided. I have met the families of the young ones lost whom I’ve just described and some of the family members I have supported, to this day.
In 2014, there were 89 child suicides, 89 again the following year, 91 in 2016, 98 in 2017 and 100 in 2018, and I estimate higher for 2019. In the first ten days of 2019, there were the tragic deaths by suicide of five girls aged between 12 to 15; two of them aged 12, one aged 14, two aged 15, and their tragic deaths I took to the nation.
2018’s 100 child suicide deaths were the leading cause of death among Australian children.
Whereas thereabouts 25 percent of suicides are of females, with child suicides thereabouts 40 percent are of females.
The highest rate of child suicides is in the Northern Territory, five times the national rate of child suicides.
Last week, Queensland’s Child Death Register emphasized that suicide remains the leading cause of unnatural deaths for children. The Register’s latest report recorded the highest rate of suicides yet, since the Register commenced in 2004. In the financial year 18/19, there were 37 suicides of Queensland children aged to 17.
The report noted that ten of the 37 children had not presented any suicidality prior to their loss. Fourteen of the children were known to child protection authorities – what more could have been done for them? Children in out-of-homecare or known to child protection are the most overrepresented disaggregation. Ten of the 37 children were First Nations.
Eight of the 37 children were aged 10 to 14 years.
We need the long overdue investment in outreach, the psychosocial, so as to journey alongside our sisters and brothers, children.
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