Hugeincrease described as 'a needless waste of young lives'
Teenagesuicides in London have increased at more than four times the national rate, asgrowing levels of deprivation and hopelessness grip young people in thecapital.
New figures show self-inflicted deaths amongLondoners aged between 10 and 19 have more than doubled since 2013, rising by107 per cent in the three years to 2016 - from 14 to 29 - while across Englandand Wales the equivalent number increased by 24 per cent.
Experts attribute the sharp rise to the“over-pressured” environment facing teenagers in the city and a feeling amongthose in the capital’s deprived neighborhoods that there is “no hope” for theireducation and job prospects.
The figures, compiled by the Brent Centre forYoung People through freedom of information requests, show that among London’s10-24 age group, the number of suicides rose by 85 per cent over three years,from 47 to 87 - compared to an 11 per cent increase in suicides in England andWales, up from 466 to 518.
The difference was particularly marked in the “post-teen”age group of 19-24, with an increase of 76 per cent in Greater London comparedto a 5 per cent increase in England and Wales over the three-year period.
The figures have prompted alarm among youthworkers in the capital, who raise concerns that deprivation indicators inLondon are creating a “pressure-cooker” of conditions for London's youngpeople.
Valentina Levi, adolescent psychotherapist atthe Brent Centre, said: “We have been flooded with cases over the past year andare really worried about what is happening out there with some of the youngpeople we are seeing.
”Many young people from more deprivedneighbourhoods really feel they have no hope in terms of the future they arefacing - in terms of education and jobs. They don't feel they have any hope ofgetting anywhere.“
Brent Centre for Young People said it had been“flooded” with cases of mentally unwell young people in recent years, with thenumber of referrals across North London rising by 59 per cent between 2014 and2017.
Self-harm rose by 30 per cent, anxiety by 52 percent and depression by 13 per cent, while eating disorders in North London shotup by 142 per cent in the three-year period.
CEO and clinical director of the centre, DrMaxim de Sauma, said the figures were “shocking and worrying”.
”When young people with crippling or disablingmental health conditions are not given the support they need, it wastes lives -and what we are seeing in London and elsewhere is a needless waste of younglives,” he said.
“People are much more over-pressured here thanthey are in other parts of the UK. Parents are less able to prioritisedifficulties because they are under a lot of stress. It goes on from onegeneration to another - so the damage is continuous.
”That young people in London are being worse affectedis deeply concerning and asks the question if young people in London areperhaps not being as well supported as they are elsewhere.
“Even one suicide is a tragedy for young peopleand leaves so much devastation in its wake. It is essential to invest moreresources now in education and health to prevent any more loss of life.”
The figures come as a new survey by charity Mindrevealed that 40 per cent of GP appointments now involved mental health, withtwo in three GPs (66 per cent) reporting that the proportion of patientsneeding help with their mental health has increased in the last year.
A review by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) ofmental health services for young people last year meanwhile found thatvulnerable children were facing “agonising waits” for treatment, with one youngperson who spoke to investigators waiting for 18 months.
During prolonged waits, children and youngpeople are unable to access the support they need, causing their mental healthto deteriorate further, with some starting to self-harm, become suicidal ordrop out of school during the wait to receive support, the report found.
Anyone who requires help or support can contacttheir Brent or local London GP for a referral or call Papyrus helpline forunder 35s on 0800 068 41 41 or the Samaritans, all ages, on 116 123.