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Young people unaware how to access mental health help, Stir study finds

The research also uncovered that children and young people do not feel listened to by mental health professionals.

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Young people experiencing suicidal feelings are unaware of available help and how to access it, a Stirling study has found.

The research also uncovered that children and young people do not feel listened to by mental health professionals.

A ‘silence around suicide’ between mental health practitioners and young patients contributes to this problem, with the study suggesting that use of ‘self-harm’ to describe suicidal behaviours should be avoided.

Lynne Gilmour, of the Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit at Stirling, who led the work said:

“Suicide is the second leading cause of death in young people globally, however, there is no agreed treatment model for treating those attempting or considering suicide.

“We need to listen to young people to be able to develop appropriate interventions.

“We found that, in general, suicidal children and young people do not know where, or how, to access help; they cannot access help directly; and when they do see a mental health practitioner, they often don’t feel listened to.”

Gilmour’s study concluded that suicide should be properly acknowledged and explicitly referred to by professionals.

The research team, which included Professor Margaret Maxwell, Director of NMAHP-RU, and Dr Nicola Ring, Associate Professor at Edinburgh Napier University, hope that this investigation will provide “vital information” to mental health practitioners.

Gilmour added: “The development of treatment models and interventions to support this vulnerable population must be informed by the views and experiences of suicidal children and young people.

“Our research will help inform the development of such models, provide vital information to those practitioners who support this vulnerable population, and act as a foundation for any future research on this topic.”


If you have been affected by suicide and/ or struggling with mental health, help is available using the following helplines.

Samaritans can offer a safe place for you to talk any time you like about whatever’s getting to you – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Phone: 116 123

Breathing Space are a free, confidential phone service for anyone in Scotland experiencing low mood, depression or anxiety. Phone: 0800 83 85 87. 

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