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  3. 10. General
  4. 10.9 Responding to suicide risk behaviour
  5. Key steps
  6. 1. Identify that a child is at risk of suicide

1. Identify that a child is at risk of suicide

1.1 Consider the criteria for identifying suicide risk to a child

A child will be identified at risk of suicide when the child meets one or more of the following criteria:

  • the child displays or discloses a history of suicide attempt/s
  • the child expresses suicidal ideation and/or it is assessed that the child has suicidal ideation
  • it is assessed that the child's self-harming behaviour (actual or threatened/expressed) places him/her at risk of suicide
  • it is assessed that the child's involvement in risky or dangerous behaviour is linked to suicidal ideation
  • the child is diagnosed with depression (the name of the diagnosing doctor and the date of the diagnosis must be included in the suicide risk alert (SR1) form) or exhibits behaviour or symptoms that may be associated with depression and it is assessed that either:
    • the child presents as suicidal
    • the child's actual or threatened self-harming behaviour places him/her at risk of suicide.

Defining suicidal behaviour

Suicidal behaviour refers to the range of actions related to suicide including:

  • suicidal ideation - thoughts of engaging in suicidal behaviour, with or without a specific plan
  • suicide attempt - potentially self-injurious act intended to end one's life but which does not result in death
  • suicide - self-injurious act intended to end one's life which results in death.

For further information to assist in identifying children at risk of suicide, refer to Attachment 1: Self-harm and suicide risk - identifying factors and warning signs, and Responding to people at risk of suicide: how can you and your organisation help? (PDF)

1.2 Consider and integrate the child protection history

A child protection history check is the consideration of all records of previous contact by the department with the child, family or other members of the child's household as part of the decision-making process. Consider and integrate the child protection history when considering whether the child is at risk of suicide, and give special consideration to:

  • previous alerts
  • information or behaviour that signifies an escalation or intensification in the pattern or severity of the child's self-harming or suicide risk behaviour
  • whether the child protection history confirms or highlights additional risk factors, including any previous child or family deaths, serious or repeated injuries, mental health issues or changes in behaviour or personality.

For further information refer to the practice paper A framework for practice with 'high risk' young people (12-17 years) (PDF, 1.1 MB) and the practice guide The assessment of harm and risk of harm (PDF, 886 KB).