Suicidal Ideation and Behaviour among Young People Leaving Care: Case-file Survey

David Hamilton, Brian J Taylor, Campbell Killick, David Bickerstaff

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10 Citations (Scopus)


Self-harming and suicide amongst adolescents are reported to be increasing in Europe and internationally. For young people in state care this aspect of mental wellbeing is of particular concern. The aim of this study was to establish the incidence of suicidal ideation and behaviour amongst young people (age 16 to 21 years) leaving state care in one Health and Social Care Trust in Northern Ireland, and to explore the correlation between this and client risk factors that might inform professional practice. Data was gathered from 164 case files of the total 215 (response rate 76%) in relation to all open cases at 30th April 2012 extracted by the relevant Social Workers through the use of a standard data collection tool. Twenty seven percent of young people known to the 16+ Teams engaged in self-harm or suicidal behaviour. There was a strong correlation between the number of self-harm incidents and the number of suicide attempts. The risk factors identified were consistent with the research base: ‘male’, ‘unemployed’, ‘alcohol and drug misuse’, ‘adverse childhood experiences’, ‘higher number of placement moves’ ‘placement type’ and ‘older age when entering care’. Young people in more isolated placements seemed particularly at risk. The results of this study are of particular relevance to Social Workers and other professionals working with young people leaving state care.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)160-176
JournalChild Care in Practice
Issue number2
Early online date7 Apr 2015
Publication statusPublished online - 7 Apr 2015


  • Adolescent
  • Case File
  • Children in Care
  • Mental Health
  • Mental Illness
  • Northern Ireland
  • Risk
  • Self-harm
  • Service Evaluation
  • Suicide
  • Survey
  • Teenager
  • Children in State Care


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