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Attempted suicide rates among Victorian teenagers soar by 184 per cent in past six months, Kids Help

Attempted suicide rates among Victorian teenagers have skyrocketed by 184 per cent in the past six months.

Disturbing new data from the Kids Helpline revealed the shocking statistic after Victoria was plunged into its fourth major Covid-19 lockdown in the past 12 months.

Teenagers aged 13-18 were the most at risk, accounting for 75 per cent of the total crisis interventions from December 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021.

Forty-four per cent of Victorian emergency interventions from December 1, 2020, to May 31, 2021, were responding to a young person’s immediate intent to suicide, while child abuse emergencies triggered 31 per cent.

“Stressed families meant we heard from young people at risk of abuse from family members,” Leo Hede, Kids Helpline Project Manager, said.

“Kids Helpline counsellors understood that many households had become particularly tense during lockdown.

“Where schools and other community connections may have previously played a role supporting young people at risk of abuse, the extended lockdowns and home schooling may have led to an increase in young people seeking support from us.”

Just two months ago, the Kids Helpline also revealed children’s counsellors were calling police and ambulances 53 times a week to help suicidal or abused children as young as five.

The shocking statistics released in March showed a child was calling for help every minute, with child abuse notifications soaring by two-thirds as kids were harmed under the cover of COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020.

Attempted suicide rates among Victorian teenagers have skyrocketed by 184 per cent in the past six months. Picture: NCA NewsWire/David Crosling Source: News Corp Australia

More than 13,000 calls were made by suicidal children last year, including 1150 with “immediate intentions’’ or a current attempt to kill themselves.

Primary school kids aged five to nine made a dramatic 80 per cent increase in calls to the helpline, which was founded by Yourtown.

Lockdowns in Melbourne fuelled the crisis for children, with duty of care interventions soaring 48 per cent last year, compared to 2019.

During the second lockdown, from July to September, referrals to police, ambulance and Child Safety for children “at imminent risk of serious harm’’ were 46 per cent higher than in the previous three months.

Mr Hede said the second lockdown had taken more of a toll on young people than the first, due in part to its length and the fact it was the state’s second period of isolation.

“The second lockdown was a lot longer,” he said.

“There was no novelty as there was in the first lockdown, so this compounded stress, isolation and loneliness. Children and young people also felt the impact of rolling media and news coverage – the high illness rates, the death tolls and their ‘doom scrolling’ through their social media feeds.”

Since those figures Victoria has had to deal with a fourth lockdown in 12 months following an outbreak of Covid-19 in early May.

The statewide lockdown was removed for regional Victoria seven days after it was announced on May 27, but the harsh restrictions remain in force for greater Melbourne.

The report also showed suicide attempt rates were slightly lower federally – they represented 38 per cent of 850-plus interventions, with child abuse accounting for 35 per cent – but was still an increase on the six months prior to the half-year to May 2021.

The total number of emergency interventions nationally rose by 99 per cent, and included children as young as five years old reaching out for help.

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