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Ageing towards 21 as a risk factor

3Ts call for vital suicide prevention resources for children as research co-funded by 3Ts highlights accelerated risk of suicide in young men aged 16-20 years and questions whether current reporting in 5 year age bands may mask greater understanding of contributing factors. 

3Ts are calling for Government to provide vital suicide prevention resources and education for children in the wake of new research which demonstrates an accelerated risk of suicide in young men aged between 16-20 years.

Speaking about the research ‘Ageing Towards 21 as a risk factor for Young Adult Suicide’ which was largely funded by 3Ts, Chairman Noel Smyth said

“This research demonstrates that dedicated suicide prevention measures must be provided for young men in the years 12-15 – in advance of the highlighted period of accelerated risk”

The research which was conducted by Professor Kevin Malone, SVUH & UCD, establishes that there is an accelerated pattern of Suicide risk up to the age of 20 which levels off thereafter, thus identifying a heretofore unreported age-related epidemiological transition for Suicide.  Speaking about the findings, Professor Malone said

“Our findings may be interpreted as identifying age 16-20 as being a particularly critical period for increased rate of suicide for young men.  Interpreting our findings at face value in the first instance led us to adopt the phrase used by John B Keane is his novel Keane “Many young men of twenty said goodbye”

Whilst the reporting of suicide deaths in 5 year age bands has been the international convention to date, according to Professor Malone the research indicates that this grouping may mask a greater understanding of the year on year factors that may accelerate the emergence of suicidal thoughts, acts and fatal consequences.

“The clinical, psychological and psychosocial factors relevant to the suicide death of a 15 year old are at variance with those associated with the suicide death of a 19 year old.  Yet worldwide, deaths are aggregated collectively for ’15-19’ year olds – data which is then supplied by countries to the WHO and which are drawn upon for international comparisons, informing national suicide prevention strategies in most countries.

Similarly, the deaths of young adults aged 20-24 are also grouped together, which preclude an examination of age-specific stresses which may contribute to peak suicide rates seen in the 19-24 year-old age bands in many countries[1]”.

Noel Smyth also highlighted the relevance of this research in relation to children at increased risk of suicide in Ireland.  “These findings come at an interesting time as we have just voted for a change in legislation through the Children’s Referendum to afford increased protection to the rights of the child.  It is vital that increased suicide prevention education and resources are provided for children at risk”.

The results of this research come as 3Ts accelerate their campaign for the formation of a Suicide Prevention Authority.  Details of their innovative campaign, together with their video to illustrate same can be viewed on where support can be registered via an online petition.

Ageing towards 21 as a risk factor for Young Adult Suicide in Ireland & UK (K. M. Malone, L. Quinlivan, T. Grant and C. C. Kelleher) PDF | 595KB
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