More info needed on youth suicide
Sep 26, 2013 / 9:30 pm
The British Columbia Coroners Service needs to collect more and better information on youth-suicide victims, including if they were bullied, what their sexual orientation was and how they used social media, a report released Thursday has concluded.
The report was written for the province's chief coroner after a meeting of the Death Review Panel April 22, 2013.
Experts from across the spectrum of the province's child-serving agencies were included in the group and they examined the stories of 91 children and youth who died between 2008 and 2012.
The group concluded child-and-youth suicide remains a highly complex phenomenon and several factors are associated with the increased risk of suicide, although those factors weren't found consistently in the cases studied.
They also concluded there is no way of accurately predicting or identifying which young people are at the highest risk for suicide.
Members then recommended giving more access to mental-health services to children and connecting community mental-health services to hospitals.
School districts should also develop risk assessments that would help in early intervention, which could include sharing information between agencies and following up with young people and their families.
Michael Egilson, director of the BC Coroners Service child death unit, said the work will have an impact.
"My perspective, what it's accomplished, is it got commitment from the health and the social ministries about greater co-ordination of services, about trying to remove barriers and, you know, I think that actually is going to make a difference in a number of young people's lives," he said.
But Opposition New Democrat children's critic Carole James said she wants to see co-ordinated action from the government
"I want to see some action," she said. "I want to see a specific plan. I want to see timelines. I want to see resources that are there, and I want to see action on behalf of B.C. children and youth because I think it's far too many reports coming forward with the same recommendations."
The review panel was appointed under the Coroners Act.
Chief Coroner Lisa Lapointe said in a news release the agency is now trying to determine how to implement the suggestions most effectively.
The coroners service also announced it would hold focus groups on the issue with young people across the province this autumn.
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