National Prevention of Young Suicide Charity Calls on the Government to take action
PAPYRUS told Minister of State for Care Services, Paul Burstow MP, this week, of its concerns for change in policy and practice.
19 July 2011
At a meeting with the Health Minister this morning, PAPYRUS, the national charity for the prevention of young suicide, raised several issues relevant to the collection of suicide statistics, interventions and care plans for vulnerable young people and the charity’s long-running campaign for internet sites that encourage young people to take their own lives to be taken down.
“When discussing young suicide we have little confidence that the number of young people who kill themselves is accurately counted,” Stephen Habgood, PAPYRUS Chairman told the Minister. "The current estimate, around 1,600 to 1,700 annually, is acknowledged to be the single cause of more young deaths than any other - even road accidents - but we believe the statistics may not be as robust as they should be and the number may be higher. We also suggest there needs to be more research using the available statistics, particularly in regards to the very young. In order to develop interventions and better understand the needs of young people, we need to understand the antecedents associated with young suicide better than we do currently."
“We know that a number of coroners elect to deliver a ‘narrative’ verdict, particularly in the case of very young deaths by suicide, to ease the pain on the parents. However, PAPYRUS has been concerned for some time about the increase in narrative verdicts and we are reassured by information from the Office of National Statistics that they are working with coroners to consider ways of recording information from narrative verdicts to allow more accurate coding of causes of death, thus giving more reliable suicide mortality rates. PAPYRUS welcomes this move.
“Assuming statistics are correct, the number of young suicides has fallen in recent years. The challenge for the government is to develop interventions and care plans to further reduce these numbers,” said Stephen Habgood.
PAPYRUS believes more needs to be done to raise awareness of the problem and to provide young people with the care they require. Rates of contact with mental health services are very low among young people compared with adults; more accessible and age-appropriate services are needed, says the charity.
On the subject of pro-suicide websites PAPYRUS reminded the minster of the campaign the charity has run for a number of years, calling for pro-suicide websites that encourage young people to take their own lives to be taken down. “The legal framework is in place but in the absence of any will to test it, and with internet provides unwilling to act when such sites are made known to them, we need a much more aggressive approach to this problem. "Some of our members are extremely frustrated by the Government's seemingly intransigent position regarding these sites," said Ged Flynn, PAPYRUS Chief Executive."I am pleased that, during the meeting, the minister committed to arrange a meeting with PAPYRUS to take up these matters with the Lord Chancellor's Office and the Ministry of Justice."
PAPYRUS will be pressing the government to widen the remit of the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) to include sites that encourage children to commit suicide. The charity believes that sites that groom children for sexual exploitation purposes are as equally dangerous and pernicious as those that groom young people and encourage them to kill themselves.
PAPYRUS called on the government to join us, working to reduce the number of young suicides in the UK.
Editorial contact for more information:
PAPYRUS press office
tel 020 8943 5343 mobile 07792 72 62 41