High level concerns were raised over fears of ‘suicidal’ cluster of young people in Doncaster

A high level investigation was launched in Doncaster following concerns that a cluster of young people may have been thinking about killing themselves.

Health organisations are now undertaking an official review, following the death of an unnamed young person, but officials say there is no ‘active cluster’ in the borough.

Generic pic of somebody in dispair or worried - pic posed by model. Picture by Marisa Cashill

Generic pic of somebody in dispair or worried - pic posed by model. Picture by Marisa Cashill

Read more: If you need help with any issues raised in this story call the Samaritans for free on 116 123

Plans for the review were raised in a meeting of the Doncaster NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, and health bosses say they may not make the findings of the review public.

It comes at a time which has seen a number of inquests opening in Doncaster involving teenagers suspected of killing themselves.

An inquest into the death of a 17-year-old girl in a suspected suicide case, is due to be concluded soon by the Doncaster coroner.

Generic pic of somebody in dispair or worried - pic posed by model. Picture by Marisa Cashill

Generic pic of somebody in dispair or worried - pic posed by model. Picture by Marisa Cashill

An inquest in November 2018 heard a 15-year-old boy had taken his own life.

Concerns over the issue of a ‘cluster’ were revealed in documents published by the Doncaster NHS CCG..

Agenda minutes stated: “There has been a recent death so a lessons learnt review will be done. There are very high level concerns due to cluster of suicidal ideation.”

After it was approached for information by the Free Press, the CCG said it was no longer concerned about a ‘cluster’.

Maisie Cousin-Stirk

Maisie Cousin-Stirk

The CCG is not leading the review or response. It is being led by the Doncaster Children’s Safeguarding Board – a multi-agency partnership, which has not made any separate comment.

A further statement issued  by the CCG said: “At the point of which the incident took place, partner organisations took immediate action.

“This is a standard process with all safeguarding issues raised in relation to children and young people to see if there are any immediate concerns with other young people. It was agreed that there were no ongoing concerns relating to suicidal ideation and it was confirmed there is no active cluster.

An earlier CCG statement said: “At DCCG Governing Body on March 7, 2019, a recent incident was acknowledged which involved a young person and links to suicidal ideation, which broadly means suicidal thoughts. A lessons learnt review is taking place in relation to the incident.

“As with all lessons learnt reviews, they are not routinely published and are completed to fully understand the incident or issue. Due to the sensitive nature of the case, no further detail can be supplied at this stage as an inquest into the incident has not yet been completed.

“Once the lessons learnt review has been completed, it will be shared across health and care organisation across Doncaster and used to inform an action plan. This will be monitored by the Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board to ensure that any lessons learnt are embedded to support children and young people in the most appropriate way.”

The trust added: “Over the last 12 months we have seen a reduction in the number of children requiring hospital admission for self-harm.

“The Doncaster Safeguarding Children Board continues to take appropriate action to prevent harm to children and young people and services across the partnership continue to respond to any emerging risks and incidents. “Lessons learnt from any investigation are always addressed to further improve Doncaster’s collective response to address and improve the health and well-being of children and young people.”

The review in Doncaster comes after national concerns were raised over deaths among teenagers.

It follows the death of Molly Russell, 14, who took her own life in 2017.

When her family looked into her Instagram account they found distressing material about depression and suicide.

Molly's father Ian said he believes Instagram was partly responsible for his daughter's death.

In a statement, Instagram said it "does not allow content that promotes or glorifies self-harm or suicide and will remove content of this kind."

The UK government has urged social media companies to take more responsibility for harmful online content which illustrates and promotes methods of suicide and self-harm.

Official NHS advice for people feeling like they want to die is that it's important to tell someone, and help and support is available right now if you need it. They state that you don't have to struggle with difficult feelings alone.

You can call the Samaritans 24 hours a day, every day on 116 123.

Case study:

Mum Helen Cousin lost her 16-year-old daughter, Maisie, to suicide in 2017. She wants more done to encourage youngsters to talk about their problems.

Helen, from Misterton, near Doncaster, has subsequently set up a charity, called Help Me, I’m Fine to help encourage children to talk about their problems from and early age. The charity funds training projects at schools.

She said: “We lost Maisie completely out of the blue on June 19, 2017. I realised she was missing when I got home from work, it was so unlike her to not let me know where she was I was immediately worried and called the police around 8.45 that evening. We were devastated when, despite the huge police search, my oldest daughters boyfriend found her body the following morning. I still can't believe she has gone. 

“When searching her room for 'clues' we found the 'help me, I’m fine' ambigram. I decided to start using it in pin badge form, to encourage anyone who may be struggling with their emotions to be able to ask for help without speaking. We have sold thousands along with wristbands and keyrings.”

“I think the way forward, is to encourage and teach the children from foundation age that it's OK to talk about how they are feeling, we need to help them become more resilient and to be able to self manage and self regulate their emotions. Surely teaching them these skills from a young age to cope with life's transitions has to be beneficial? 

“Since we lost Maz I have become aware of so many young people who think that suicide is their only option, it's heartbreaking. They feel that they don't have any support, they may feel to old for CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and let's face it, the waiting list is so long it's ridiculous, but too young to perhaps be taken seriously by adults.

“I feel that more drop in centres, run by trained counsellors are needed to access help and support there and then, because who wants to sit in a waiting room at the local GP’s surrounded by people they know.”

“We have lost our heart and soul and will never get it back, I don't want anyone else’s child to feel that they have no one to turn to,” she said.