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Responding to Violence, Suicide, Psychosis and Trauma

Young people’s gendered interpretations of suicide and attempted suicide

Jonathan Scourfield*, Nina Jacob, Nina Smalley, Lindsay Prior§ and Katy Greenland¶

*Senior Lecturer, PhD Student, ¶Lecturer, Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Cardiff, Freelance Researcher, and

§Professor of Sociology, Queen’s University, Belfast, UK

Child and Family Social Work 2007, 12, pp 248–257


This paper aims to uncover gendered interpretations of various kinds

of suicidal behaviour. Its empirical basis is focus group discussions

with a range of young people, including users of social work services.

In support of Canetto’s research, the authors found some of the young

people to be associating ‘successful’ suicides with masculinity and

‘failed’ suicide attempts with femininity. These feminized suicide

attempts were subject to some fairly pejorative interpretations, such

as being motivated by revenge or manipulation. There was no particular

pattern of viewpoints in terms of the sex of respondents. The

implications of these findings for social work are discussed.

Filed under: Suicide, , , , ,

Child suicide attempts rise to more than 4,000

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Children’s Secretary calls for greater vigilance to spot those at risk – Jo Revill and John Lawless. Sunday December 16 2007. The Observer.


More than 4,000 children under 14 have attempted to take their own lives in the past year, according to NHS figures that show the scale of distress and mental suffering in the young.


Statistics being released this week will paint a terrible picture of how children have tried to commit suicide. They reveal that 69 attempted to hang or suffocate themselves and two tried to drown themselves. Most took overdoses of medicines, drugs or solvents in an effort to end their lives, but some resorted to more extreme measures. Thirteen children leapt from a great height, while four lay or jumped in front of a moving vehicle. One child attempted suicide by deliberately crashing a car.


The records show that 4,241 children under 14 were admitted to hospitals in England in the 12 months to March 2007 after attempting to kill themselves. The figures are in a report by the Information Centre for Health and Social Care, a body set up by the government to analyse the details behind nearly a million adult and child admissions to accident and emergency departments each year.


The number of suicide attempts, which has risen slightly in the past five years, will worry ministers, who are aware that secondary school teachers and family doctors are increasingly seeing children, particularly young boys, in states of distress without being able to offer a specialised support service.


Ed Balls, the Children’s Secretary, has set up a review of children’s and teenagers’ mental health services with the aim of finding ways to stop problems arising. He called last week for more vigilance in spotting ‘distress signals’ in young boys.


There is a growing debate about whether mental health disorders are rising in the young, but there are signs that health professionals are seeing more young patients. The number of prescriptions handed out to children under 16 for depression and mental health disorders has quadrupled in a decade.


Isla Dowd, of the charity Rethink, said: ‘To have this number of children attempting to commit suicide in a country where we are claim to have a culture where every child matters is profoundly shocking. Children often attempt suicide when they feel that such drastic action is the only solution to their problems. There is still not adequate and appropriate access for children experiencing emotional and mental distress.’


About one in 10 children and young people will suffer behavioural, emotional or mental health problems before the age of 18, with twice as many young boys under 10 as girls diagnosed with a mental health disorder.


Balls said: ‘We know that girls are better than boys at asking for help when they need it. That is why we are calling on professionals working with children to keep a close eye on boys in particular and spot when they are distressed.’


Health Secretary Alan Johnson added: ‘Having good mental health enables young people to make the most of their opportunities. However, we know that a minority of children and young people are at increased risk of developing mental health problems than their peers.’


Copyright Guardian Newspapers Limited 2007


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Football Foundation project sees mental health sufferers coping through football’

press release   date 02/12/2007


Project to be launched by Sports Minister at Emirates Stadium uses sport to address symptoms, avoiding over-reliance on drugs and potentially saving NHS money

An innovative new project which uses football to alleviate the symptoms of mental illness is to be launched by Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe MP next week at the Football Foundation Mental Health Summit.

Coping Through Football is funded with a £212,034 grant from the Football Foundation, the UK’s largest sports charity, and managed by the London Playing Fields Foundation. It will be formally launched at the Football Foundation’s Mental Health Summit at Arsenal Football Club’s Emirates Stadium at 10am, 5 December.

Key facts about mental health:
• Suicide caused by depression is the biggest killer of young men aged between 18-to-25
• It is estimated that mental health affects up to one in four Britons at some point in their life
• Estimates also show depression costs the UK economy about £8bn a year in medication, benefits and lost working days
• There is currently a reliance on drugs to treat mental illness
• Coping Through Football is a new sport-based mental health initiative that is being launched
• It has potential to save NHS money through reduced hospital bed/clinician and medication bills.

Coping Through Football seeks to reduce the isolation and discrimination faced by one of the most marginalised groups – the mentally ill. It uses football as a tool to engage 18-35 year old men who are within the mental health care system but prefer not to attend the typical therapy sessions on offer. It is delivered in conjunction with the North East London Mental Health Trust, Waltham Forest Primary Care Trust and Leyton Orient’s Community Coaches.

It provides clients with football coaching sessions and other football-related activities. Healthcare specialists will work alongside the football coaches enabling aspects of the clients existing programme of care to be delivered simultaneously. This will increase the accessibility of their current care programme and heighten the ability of the healthcare providers to deliver their health services.

Coping Through Football harnesses sports’ best attributes to help build the self esteem of mental health service users. The football sessions are designed to improve the physical fitness of participants, who often have high rates of heart disease, strokes, cancer and diabetes. It introduces a routine into daily life and provides them with an environment they can be comfortable socialising in, preventing isolation and exclusion.

The scheme provides an alternative to the traditional reliance on medication as a treatment for depression. The endorphins produced whilst playing football also provide a natural sense of wellbeing to the group, who previously may have had drug or alcohol issues.

Coping Through Football is also a recovery model which aims to take the end user on a journey from secondary care to the relative normality of primary care. This project will not only exploit football’s capacity for bringing people together, but will also be used as a part of their therapy. This will include training, playing matches, discussions on football related topics, attending FA coaching and refereeing courses, volunteering and watching professional fixtures.

Coping Through Football’s sophisticated bespoke monitoring and evaluation software has been endorsed by the Institute of Psychiatry. It will capture data not just on the improvements in participants’ health and wellbeing but also on the savings to the NHS created through fewer admissions to hospital for mental health treatment.

Minister for Sport Gerry Sutcliffe said: “In Coping Through Football, the Football Foundation and London Playing Fields Foundation are using the national game’s best attributes to address a serious health problem that can be very debilitating to sufferers.

“This is an exciting pilot initiative which draws on football’s qualities such as team-bonding and exercise, which can build self-esteem and help a person get back on track and achieve their full potential.”

Jason Kelvin, 36, a service user on Coping Through Football described the dramatic impact that taster sessions have had: “My anxiety is like being imprisoned.  Yet I am both the inmate and jailor.  Instead of being in a 6×4 cell, my walls are all encompassing, like an invisible force field continuously pulling me down emotionally, and it is my thoughts that keep me here.

“It is a debilitating condition and not a happy place to be. My natural inclination is to avoid places, people and situations that can arouse my fear. My answer for years has been to hide away, to stay indoors creating a comfort zone that I could live with. This only exasperates the problem as the isolation fuels my anxiety, creating panic, paranoia and inevitably depression.

“Thanks to Coping Through Football I have been able to pierce some of this destructive emotion. I’ve always enjoyed sport and not only has this helped me regain some of my fitness but I’ve made new friends from different walks of life; yet with similar situations to mine.  Making these contacts helps you realise you’re not alone. I’ve built up a lot of my lost confidence, and broken many of the shackles that were holding me in my self-imposed prison.

“I might still be an inmate, but during my Coping Through Football time, I feel like I’m on day release!”

Paul Thorogood, Chief Executive of the Football Foundation, added: “The Coping Through Football initiative is an innovative way of helping people who suffer from mental health issues. It is the latest example of how the Football Foundation is harnessing our national game as an important vehicle that can help support individuals and deliver benefits to society in a wide range of areas.”

Alex Welsh, The Operations Director for the London Playing Fields: “Through the Coping Through Football project the London Playing Fields Foundation has demonstrated that protecting playing fields can have a dramatic impact on the quality of life of those who use them.”

For more information ring Rory Carroll (Football Foundation) on 0845 345 4555 ext. 4280 / 07710 274 285 or

Filed under: Suicide, , ,

Psychotherapy Useful In Treating Post-traumatic Stress Disorder In Early Stages

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ScienceDaily (Dec. 9, 2007) — When treated within a month, survivors of a psychologically traumatic event improved significantly with psychotherapy, according to a new study presented at the American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) annual meeting. Lead researcher and ACNP member Arieh Shalev, M.D., Chair of the Department of Psychiatry and founding Director of the Center for Traumatic Stress at Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem, studied 248 adults with early symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following a traumatic event that had occurred no more than four weeks earlier. His goal was to determine which forms of treatment given soon after the traumatic event can prevent the development of chronic PTSD. Officially, PTSD cannot be diagnosed until four weeks after a traumatic event. However, symptoms that occur before four weeks often persist, and effective early intervention may prevent subsequent trauma-related suffering.Patients were treated for 12 weeks with cognitive therapy (which helps people change unproductive or harmful thought patterns), cognitive behavioral therapy (which helps densensitize patients’ upsetting reactions to traumatic memories), an antidepressant (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) known to be helpful in treating chronic PTSD, placebo or no intervention at all. “We found that cognitive therapy and cognitive behavioral therapy worked well on these patients, whose symptoms and duration of PTSD were compared at the end of 3 months of intervention. At that time, their symptoms were significantly less severe than in patients who were treated with medication, placebo, or no treatment at all,” Shalev says. Shalev added that although antidepressants did not work during this early post-trauma period, it is important to continue exploration of pharmacological interventions for early treatment of PTSD. Shalev says that other research suggests that both pharmacotherapy and cognitive behavioral therapy can be partially effective for PTSD when given three months or more after a traumatic event. He adds that it is important for PTSD survivors to know recovery is still possible even if treatment is not received immediately. Nevertheless, Shalev adds that his results indicate that it is best for survivors to be treated as early as possible. Adapted from materials provided by American College of Neuropsychopharmacology.Need to cite this story in your essay, paper, or report? Use one of the following formats: (X) APA

( ) MLA American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (2007, December 9). Psychotherapy Useful In Treating Post-traumatic Stress Disorder In Early Stages. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 10, 2007, from­ /releases/2007/12/071208092445.htm

Filed under: trauma, ,