“25% of females and 40% of male, school-age children have considered suicide in the last year.”

The following is a news item from Hafal’s Big Lottery-funded Young People’s Information Hub. To access the Hub please click here.

A conference examining how to reduce levels of suicide and self-harm in young people in Wales has heard that “25% of females and 40% of male, school-age children have considered suicide in the last year.”

The event “Minimising self-harm – preventing suicide”, which was held at the All Nations Centre, Cardiff, was attended by service users and professionals and featured a range of speakers covering topics such as: “Working therapeutically with students in distress: the importance of dialogue” and “Supporting the professional: training and support at the frontline.”

Introducing the event Conference Chair, Phil Chick, MH Development Lead, National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Health, said: “July 1st technically marks the halfway point through the lifespan of ‘Talk to me: A national action plan to reduce suicide and self harm in Wales 2008-2013′ so this event is timely. User participation underpins what we’re doing in Wales in relation to reducing self-harm and suicide; we have a whole nation approach which involves professionals, statutory services and the third sector. It’s also important to stress that community participation, and how to ensure that happens, is crucial to our approach.”

The event included a presentation from Dr David Williams, CAMHS Adviser to the Welsh Government. Dr Williams spoke on the importance of early intervention for young people with a serious mental illness.

He said: “The importance of early intervention can be summed up in one word – very.”

He added: “25% of females and 40% of male school-age children have considered suicide in the last year. That equates to approximately 180,000 young people in Wales. 75% have gone as far as thinking about a plan, that’s about 120,000. If my specialist service were to deal with that we’d need another 3,000 CAMHS professionals to take that as a caseload.

“Currently there are 320 people across Wales providing community CAMHS services and that’s a caseload for about 3,200 young people so the plan to encourage community intervention makes a lot of sense.”

Hafal’s Young People’s Information Officer, John Gilheaney, who attended the event said: “The seminar reinforced the principle that the mental health of young people in Wales is, as the Welsh Government’s 2001 strategy stated, “Everybody’s Business”. Dr Williams’ presentation also reminded, and made clear to all, that resources for the care of young people with a serious mental illness in Wales are severely limited. It will be interesting to see how the new Health and Social Services Minister, Lesley Griffiths AM, tackles this problem.”

John said that one of the most interesting speakers on the day was Clare Shaw, Director and Training Partner of harm-ed, a user-led organisation which offers training on all aspects of self-harm.

He said: “Clare said that the most important aspect of her recovery was finding people who were sympathetic, supportive, warm and respectful towards her. She said that the service staff who helped her the most were not the most highly qualified but instead were those that had great, basic human qualities. She highlighted the importance of positive staff attitudes.”

For information on harm-ed please visit: www.harm-ed.co.uk

To read Talk to Me please visit: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/health/improvement/index/talk/;jsessionid=kpGJNZBRYjbFkmDnqwKc9mqQtzj6npsL1s5ksbgkJlb6Yd6lrYDn!323087071?lang=en

To read Everybody’s Business (2001), the Welsh Government Strategy Document on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services please visit: http://wales.gov.uk/topics/childrenyoungpeople/publications/childadomentalhealthservices/?lang=en