#childsafety | Children’s commissioner warns at-risk children are ‘falling through gaps’ of suicide prevention safety net

Papyrus, the charity, has called Wales’ youth mental health issue ‘a scandal’

Saturday, 18th January 2020, 10:35 am

Updated Saturday, 18th January 2020, 12:15 pm
Sally Holland called for a new approach to young people’s mental health (Photo: Children’s Commissioner for Wales)

Sally Holland called for a coordinated effort to end young people being “bounced around the system”.

The youth suicide rate in Wales has been branded a “scandal” by prevention charity Papyrus.

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A total of 38 young people aged 10-24 died by suicide in 2018, Office for National Statistics figures show.

“There’ll be some children who need more support than the school or universal services can offer and that’s where we need to make sure they don’t get lost in the system,” Ms Holland told the BBC.

‘End to wrong-doors’

“Children tend to often now, with their families, fall down through the gaps so they sit on a waiting list for one service, perhaps get turned away from that, get told to go and try somewhere else, what we might say is being bounced around the system.

Mark Drakeford, Welsh First Minister, said everyone must play a part (Photo: BBC)

“We need to make sure there’s a no-wrong-door approach – if you reach out for help you don’t keep being told you’re at the wrong door.”

The commissioner pointed to Wales’ seven regional partnership boards, which were introduced in 2016 and combine NHS and social services under one umbrella, as the way forward.

Mark Drakeford, the Welsh first minister, said it is everyone’s responsibility to “weave together a safety net” for the young.

‘Scandal’ suicide rate

It comes as suicide charity Papyrus set up its first Cardiff shop that will extend its nationwide free helpline, providing advice to children at risk and working with local youth clubs.

Papyrus’ head of Wales Kate Heneghan said: “One is too many, 38 is a scandal.

“We know that the more outreach work we do within our Welsh communities the more calls we receive to our helpline from young people struggling, and from concerned others too, not knowing where to turn for support.”

Next week the Welsh Assembly is set to debate whether enough support is given to families bereaved by a child lost to suicide.

The Welsh government said it was investing £5m into mental health provision in schools.

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