When a child (or adult) has feelings of extreme psychological distress or emotional pain, they may be at risk of suicidal behaviour or self-harm. Self-harm is when they deliberately hurt themselves, without wanting to die, as a way of coping with difficult or painful feelings.
People who self-harm find it difficult to talk about their feelings and use self-harm to express and release these emotions privately. They often hide their behaviour and are not usually trying to gain attention or manipulate others.
Children who have experienced trauma are at an increased risk of self-harm and suicide.
If you notice the child in your care is not themselves and you are concerned they may be at risk of self-harm or suicide, you should not ignore it. Talk to the child. Let them know you are worried and ask them what is happening for them. Listen and do not pass judgment. Tell them you will seek additional help from others, including their case manager, because you care about them and want them to be safe. Let them know you will support them.
It is important to get the child help as soon as possible through a GP or a mental health service such as Lifeline, beyondblue, Headspace or Kids Helpline.
Lifeline is a confidential crisis support and suicide line available 24/7 from a landline, payphone or mobile. Lifeline also has a webchat function that may appeal to some children. Lifeline can be contacted by:
Beyondblue is a national, not-for-profit organisation that aims to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related substance misuse disorders. They can be contacted by:
Headspace is a confidential service for 12 to 25 years olds experiencing a tough time or who are worried about their drug and alcohol use or mental, physical or sexual wellbeing. They can be contacted by:
Kids Helpline is a free, 24/7, confidential and private counselling service specifically for children and young people aged 5 to 25 years. It provides both phone and web counselling. Kids Helpline can be contacted by:
These services also provide support for carers, so feel free to contact them to help you also.
If you are concerned about the child in your care, it is important you discuss this with your case manager.
If the child’s life is in immediate danger, call 000.
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