Shocking figures just released show a staggering 338 young people attended A&E departments in just a nine months – all as a result of self-harm or suicidical thoughts.
And an Upper Bann MLA has warned that a generation of young people will be condemned to the risk of suicide or self-harm if the current situation is not dealt with.
Jo-Anne Dobson is the Ulster Unionist Party’s spokesperson on Health and she has expressed her shock at the figures, which relate to a nine month period between April 1 and December 31 last year.
The Upper Bann MLA said: “Northern Ireland has one of the world’s highest rates of poor mental health and wellbeing. The problem is prevalent across our adult population, but what is perhaps less well-known is how the issue affects our young people.
“Through information revealed to the Ulster Unionist Party through an Assembly Question to the Health Minister, we have found that 338 children under the age of 16 presented at emergency care departments as a result of self-harm or suicidal acts or thoughts.
“That is a frightening statistic, especially when we consider that it only covers only a nine month period. Figures were not available for other years we sought, so in reality the situation is likely to be much worse.
“It is clear that poor mental health is having a major impact on our children and young people.
“Issues such as bullying, anxiety and body image may all be contributing to our younger generation’s poor emotional wellbeing. I suspect however there may also be other more local societal issues also affecting it.
“For instance, research from the Commission for Victims and Survivors found that children in Northern Ireland continue to remain a group impacted by conflict-legacy issues, directly through exposure to ongoing violence and paramilitarism, and indirectly through the effects of conflict-related mental disorders on their parents.
“Unless young people who present at A&Es with these issues receive the support the need, their problems are likely to spiral into acute, long-term mental illness.
“If the problem goes unchecked the Health authorities are condemning a generation to risk of self-harm and suicide.”
Young people in need to talk in confidence can contact ChildLine on 0800 1111 or visit the link below:
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