by Ashley Clark
CHILDREN 14 years and younger are making suicide plans, according to research conducted by children's support agency Yourtown.
Yourtown's Dr Samantha Batchelor said the 2016 survey of 472 children with lived experience of suicide showed that of the 139 in the 14 and under age group, 82% had made a suicide plan while 54% reported having attempted suicide.
"Despite this, there is a limited awareness about suicidal thoughts and behaviours experienced by the very young because of the lack of available data and information in the community...," she said.
Between 2012 and 2016, Kids Helpline recorded more than 59,000 contacts related to suicide, one in five from a children 14 or younger.
However Headspace Bundaberg's Tim Byrne said it wasn't uncommon for children to express thoughts of suicide when they were feeling extremely upset.
"Most often when children are expressing suicidal thoughts they are not really wanting to actively suicide, but wanting to escape their feelings of distress," he said.
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Suicidal ideations could be triggered by exposure of suicide, such as knowing someone who died by suicide, he said.
Mr Byrne said Headspace worked with people from the age of 12 to help manage their thoughts.
"When it comes to children we must be very clear that suicide is not an option and that there are plenty of ways to resolve upsetting feelings and circumstances with help from others," he said.
"A first point of contact may be parents, friends, the school guidance officer or they make an appointment at a local Headspace centre.
He said if someone was at risk of hurting themselves or others the emergency department was the first point of contact: phone 000.