Teenage suicides could be sign of mental health toll

Professor Allan Fels said prolonged lockdowns could “magnify the severity of those experiencing mental health problems” (Bigstock)

An alarming increase in deaths by suicide among young women this year could be the first sign of a tragic but expected result of the pandemic, a former national mental health commission chair says. Source: The Australian.

Allan Fels, also a former commissioner of the royal commission into Victoria’s mental health system, said young people were in need of improved access to mental health support after eight teenage girls took their own lives this year.

Professor Fels said prolonged lockdowns could “magnify the severity of those experiencing mental health problems”.

Victoria’s mental health system is “failing” and its capacity to cope with high levels of demand is in­adequate, Professor Fels said.

New data from Victoria’s Coroner’s Court showed eight girls died by suicide to July 31, up from just one in the first seven months of last year. In the same period in 2019, Coroner’s Court statistics show three teenage girls took their own lives while the number was four in 2018 and three in 2017.

The court said it was too early to determine whether the data represented a trend but it would monitor the situation closely.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced yesterday that the state’s sixth lockdown would be extended by two weeks and a 9pm to 5am curfew enforced.

Chief health officer Brett Sutton said authorities would prioritise a return to school for later year high school students as soon as possible amid concerns about their mental health and academic performance.


Teenage suicides could be sign of pandemic mental health toll (by Angelica Snowden, The Australian)

National FREE 24/7 Crisis Services: • Lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au • Suicide Call Back Service 1300 659 467 www.suicidecallbackservice.org.au • Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 www.kidshelpline.com.au • MensLine Australia 1300 78 99 78 www.mensline.org.au • Beyond Blue Support Service 1300 22 4636

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