Children at risk of suicide ‘need more protection’

Children at risk of self-harm need more protection, a Care Inspectrate report has said. Picture: TSPL
Children at risk of self-harm need more protection, a Care Inspectrate report has said. Picture: TSPL
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Local authorities have been urged to take greater steps to meet the needs of children in their care who are at risk of self-harm.

• Local authorities have been urged to do more to meet needs of children at risk of self-harm

Care Inspectorate report suggests nearly all suicide deaths could not have been anticipated

• Call for staff to be better trained in detecting suicide risk factors

Care Inspectorate made recommendations in a report which looked back at all deaths among children in care between 2009 and 2011.

It found that councils nearly always concluded that deaths from intentional self-harm could not have been foreseen.

But it recommended that staff could be better trained to be “alert to suicide risk factors”.

It also suggested that children who go for medical attention following overdose or self-harm are reviewed by the on-call psychiatrist and referred to mental health services.

The report looked at 30 deaths among children aged between one and 17. Five were suicides.

The rate of death for children in care is broadly in line with the overall rate for all children in 2010 and 2011.

Annette Bruton, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “The death of any child is a traumatic experience for families, carers, friends and relatives. It causes great pain and suffering for everyone involved so in order to learn lessons, we must understand the circumstances in which looked-after children die.

“Our inspectors saw examples of good practice in the care of these 30 looked-after children who died, but there are lessons to be learned. It is particularly important that people supporting looked-after children work in a joined-up way.

“In some cases, lack of co-ordination means things are at risk of slipping through the net and looked-after children find it harder to access the services they need.”