Call for teachers and health workers to have training to spot signs of distress in children

Teachers and frontline health workers should have basic training to spot the signs of distress in children and young people, which can help them to avoid experiencing greater mental health issues, a suicide and harm reduction specialist has said.

In the UK, children’s charities report increasing numbers of calls from anxious and suicidal young people, which shows that the need to support children at at an early stage is growing ever more critical.

Globally, more than 800,000 people die each year from suicide and it is the second highest cause of death amongst 15-29 year olds, according to recent figures from the International Association for Suicide Prevention.

Jude Sellen, director of Impact Wellbeing, a specialist in suicide and harm reduction among young people who works in schools on this, believes that more needs to be done to pick up on signs of distress in children and young people.

“It’s essential that schools, health workers and families know how to spot the signs of distress in children and young people,” she said. “All too often, the fear of intruding, or not knowing what to do or say can leave vulnerable people out in the cold.

“Basic training for teachers and frontline staff can make the difference between a child overcoming the impact of bullying, domestic violence, abuse or becoming another young person who will struggle with anxiety and depression for years to come, with the worst outcome being they take their own life.”

To this end, Sellen is launching a new film, Youth Suicide, A reality, which designed to tackle the taboo of youth suicide.

The 18-minute film provides an insight into one 16-year-old boy’s story and provides discussion points and advice for professionals to improve their understanding and approach. Copies are available for £15 from www.impactwellbeing.org.uk

Self Harm and Suicidal Ideation conference-Thursday 2 October at Kettering Conference Centre. Places are now full, but an extensive toolkit for professionals and parents about spotting the signs of self harm and possible suicidal tendencies will be available to download on Ask Normen from 2 October. 


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