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Updated : August 1, 2022 3 mins read

Suicidal thoughts | Support for professionals

Updated : August 1, 2022 3 mins read

Article Suicidal thoughts

Despite suicide rates in Scotland falling, statistics released in 2021 still highlight that around 1 in 5 deaths by suicide in Scotland are by a young person under 30 years old.

Some studies also suggest that there is evidence of a significant correlation between suicidal ideation in young people and having a parent or sibling in the military. Although these studies are not specific to the United Kingdom forces.

If you’re worried that a child you’re working with is experiencing suicidal thoughts, here are some ways that you can help them get the support they need.

Signs a young person might have suicidal thoughts

When you’re working with a child, you might only see them for a short period of time or on occasion. It might be easy to overlook signs that they are struggling.

NHS Borders highlight the following as warning signs a child might be having suicidal ideation:

  • ​Social withdrawal or difficulties with peer groups
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Losing interest in hobbies
  • Changes in eating or sleeping patterns
  • Alcohol or substance misuse
  • Reduced concentration
  • Self-defeating language, evidence of low self worth
  • Lack of interest in personal care/appearance
  • General low mood/mood swings
  • Running away from home
  • Episodes of self harm
  • Researching methods of suicide
  • Comments that suggest that are planning on not being around much longer

Supporting a young person with suicidal thoughts

Young people have the right of confidentiality when they are working with a service or educator. However, there are times when it is necessary to break confidentiality when it is in the best interest of the child or young person.

You should always seek the consent of the young person before sharing information. However, if you feel that the young person does not have the mental capacity to consent, or if you believe that the young person is at high risk or danger you should break confidentiality.

If you feel a child or young person is going to try to harm themselves immediately, you should contact 999.

You should check with your child protection procedures on how to raise concerns.

Find out more about having a conversation with a child about suicidal thoughts . Remember not to make promises to a young person that you will keep your conversation a secret.

It is important for all professionals to work together to support a child who is experiencing suicidal thoughts. Mental health professionals, schools, support services and families need to work together to ensure the young person feels safe and supported in the different areas of their life.

Examples of support for a young person having suicidal thoughts:

  • Create a safety plan
  • Regular communication across the services involved
  • Support for the family
  • Explore available support/treatment options
  • Keep the young person at the centre of everything that is happening. Do with not to

Get Help now

If you are concerned about your mental health, or if you have found yourself feeling concerned about someone else, you can:

Call 111 – NHS 24

Call 116 123 – The Samaritans

Call 0800 83 85 87 – Breathing Space

Text: ‘YM’ to 85258 – Young Minds crisis chat

If you think you are in danger of hurting yourself or other people, you should call 999 or present to your local A&E department.