Calls have been made to enhance support of young people’s mental health after a report revealed suicide is the leading cause of death among children and young adults.
‘Suicide among young people in Scotland’ was published earlier this month and it makes for grim reading.
The report, prepared using data on probable suicides registered with the National Records of Scotland, says that a quarter (25.7 per cent) of all deaths among five to 24 year olds were probable suicides. This compares with 1.2 per cent of all deaths among those aged 25 and over.
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Crucially, the report states that five to 24 year olds were significantly less likely to have had contact with a healthcare service in the period before death than people aged 25 and over.
Overall, 65.6 per cent of those in the younger age bracket had contact compared with 79.8 per cent of those aged 25 and over.
West Scotland MSP Paul O’Kane has called for more action to support the mental health of young people.
The Scottish Labour politician said: “It’s vital that there is a compassionate focus on improving support for young people’s mental health and the most practical way to do that is to ensure that people who are struggling with their mental health can be seen by services on demand, and that will require urgent action from the Scottish Government.”
The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) waiting times were published on the same day as the report.
It revealed that the proportion of people waiting to be seen by a medical professional for support with their mental health within the target 18 weeks target fell to 68.4 per cent. It represents a decrease from 73.2 per cent for the previous quarter and also from 72.5 per cent for the same quarter ending June 2021.
The Scottish Government standard states that 90 per cent of children and young people should start treatment within 18 weeks of referral to CAMHS.
Mr O’Kane said: “These are tragic findings made all the more worrying when we hear that CAMHS performance has greatly reduced meaning that people who desperately need support are waiting and waiting.”
At the end of June 2022, there were 9,729 children and young people waiting to start treatment compared to 10,346 for the previous quarter and 11,714 for the same quarter ending June 2021.
Mr O’Kane added: “My thoughts go to everyone who has lost a young loved one to suicide, or to anyone who has struggled with their own mental health, for them I’ll do all I can to push the Scottish Government on improving these services so that future tragic losses can be avoided.”
Scottish Government Mental Wellbeing Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We are working to reduce the rate of suicide in Scotland and are ensuring that those affected by suicide have access to the right support.”
He confirmed that the government will be publishing a ‘Suicide Prevention Strategy and Action Plan later this month, which will will set out how it plans to prevent suicide by young people.
Mr Stewart added: “The Government is also investing across children and young people’s mental health services, with an additional £40 million allocated to NHS Boards to improve CAMHS, from our £120 million Mental Health Recovery and Renewal Fund. This funding has gone towards improving CAMHS provision and includes reducing the backlogs of CAMHS waiting lists; establishing access to CAMHS assessments out of hours, and improving data collection and access to specialist regional services.”
Data from the National Records of Scotland shows 25 deaths by suicide were recorded in Renfrewshire in 2021 - up from 22 in 2020.
In East Renfrewshire, 11 deaths were logged last year - up from seven in 2020.
When life is difficult, Samaritans are there – day or night, 365 days a year. You can call them for free on 116 123, email them at email@example.com, or visit www.samaritans.org to find your nearest branch.
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