Sunday, May 29, 2016

Playing Russian roulette with Suicidal Children

UK’s The Independent carried this alarming report just yesterday! Last year, almost a quarter of a million children in England were referred for specialist mental health treatment and nearly 70,000 of them were sent away without help, including some who had attempted suicide.
This came from a report, written by the Children's Commissioner Anne Longfield – she had gathered data from 48 of England's 60 child and adolescent mental health service trusts (CAMHs). She pointed out that "there is a gap emerging between the help and support that GPs can offer and the specialist services".
She said: "I don't yet know quite why they are being turned away but certainly being turned away or put on a waiting list for up to six months is clearly playing Russian roulette with their health”.
To illustrate the gravity of the mental health situation in England, let me repeat the statistics. More than 69.500 children or twenty-eight percent of the 248,000 children who had sought help, were refused help. This included more than 9,000 who were described as having “life-threatening” conditions. Others had attempted serious self-harm or were suffering from conditions like psychosis and anorexia nervosa.
Sarah Brennan, chief executive of mental health charity YoungMinds, lambasted the “crisis” in children’s mental health services.

She bemoaned: “The truth is that years of underfunding have left the whole system overwhelmed. Many local authorities have repeatedly had their budgets slashed on things like social workers, support programs for parents, educational psychologists and targeted mental health services in schools”.
Dr Carl Walker, chair of the European Community Psychology Association Task Force on Austerity and Mental Health, said the report was not a surprise but still “deeply shocking”.

He said: “The effect of denial of care to young people and children is particularly damaging to the vital period of their early development”.
Barnardo's chief executive Javed Khan, told The Independent: "It's unacceptable that tens of thousands of children who need mental health support cannot get the right help when they need it”.
He added: "Through Barnardo's work, we see first-hand what a dramatic difference getting mental health support makes to a child. Delays or not getting that help can lead to a lifetime of mental health issues that, in some cases, could have been avoided."
The Department of Health’s too responded: "We have introduced the first-ever mental health access and waiting time standards and are putting a record £1.4 billion into support for young people in every area of the country”. That'll surely help.
And I cannot help but wonder if we realize that a suicide situation is brewing in Malaysia. And whether we realize also that mental health support is clearly inadequate.
Aishvarya Sinniah et al (2014), had made this interesting observation: 76% of the studies on suicide attempt were descriptive studies that looked at socio-demographic data, psychiatric illness, and methods and reasons for suicide attempts. There is a clear need for more empirical studies that can explore suicide behavior in Malaysia in greater depth (“Suicide attempts in Malaysia from the year 1969 to 2011” The Scientific World Journal, vol. 2014, article ID 718367).
In other words, there is so much we don’t know about the subject, more so on suicide intention and/or suicide attempt. To put it bluntly, we are clueless. featured an article “Suicide is the 2nd Leading Cause of Death Among Youth – A Closer Look at the Situation In Malaysia” dated September 07, 2015 that informed us that Befrienders KL had recorded approximately 20,000 contacts overall from phone calls, email and face-to-face cases in 2014. And twenty-five percent of the said contacts expressed intention to commit suicide, while nearly half of all email contacts did so. That means that 1 out of 4 who contacted Befrienders had suicidal tendencies.
It’s time we do something about it before more lives are entrapped!

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