38 Children Known to Child Protection Services Died By Suicide In Past Decade
Statistics released to Aontú show that nearly 200 children who were either known to child protection services or in state care have died over the past decade. 38 of them died by suicide.
Speaking today, the Aontú spokesperson on Children and Equality, Luke Silke, said:
“These are shocking figures. Nearly 200 children who were either in State care or known to Child Protection Services have died over the past decade or so. We have a serious problem in this country when 38 children under the care of the State are dying by suicide with more children also dying by homicide and drug overdoses. Obviously when we have a situation where a child is murdered while known to Child Protection Services there are very serious questions for the State to answer”.
Mr Silke continued: “I have read all of the reports produced by the National Review Panel. They made for absolutely harrowing reading. These very detailed reports – in which all children and ascribed pseudonyms – identify a number of flaws in the current system with many of the children falling through the cracks. The ‘Hugh’ report, for example, which was published on 7th Feb 2018 highlights how he was referred to CAMHS but was left without treatment for ADHD due to a CAMHS policy whereby young people who are using drugs are not eligible for service. Hugh died aged sixteen from a drug overdose. The report produced in June 2019 on the death of Niamh, aged fifteen by suicide, notes how she too was deemed ineligible for CAMHS. Ava who died at the young age of fourteen, with a report produced in July 2020, had a made a sexual abuse allegation against a family member – social work area A had believed that area B would speak to Ava, she fell between the cracks and was not spoken to. Her body was discovered a few days after she was declared missing”.
“These are absolutely appalling statistics. It is a tragedy when any child dies – but I am shocked at the amount dying by suicide while they are under the care of the State. These are children for whom we as a country are responsible. One wonders what the leaders of 1916 would say to these statistics – it is quite clear that we are not cherishing the children of this nation. I wonder how “Luke”, who was born roughly the same time as myself, felt while he transitioned from foster care into a homeless hostel, into a prison before he was eventually found dead, as a teenager, two weeks after he deferred his stint in rehab. “Luke” was a victim of assault – his parents died when he was young and the State was charged with his care. Did he feel cherished? Aontú is calling for a review of all the reports produced by the National Review Panel – it is clear, on foot of these reports, that serious action needs to be taken”, concluded Mr Silke.
For Oral Answer on : 30/03/2023
Question Number(s): 28 Question Reference(s): 14889/23
Department: Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Asked by: Peadar Tóibín T.D.
To ask the Minister for Children; Equality; Disability; Integration and Youth the number of children who died, either while in State care or while known to child protection services, in each of the past ten years and to date in 2023.
The National Review Panel (NRP) for the investigation of serious incidents including the deaths of children in care and known to the child protection service was set up in 2010 as part of the Implementation Plan associated with the Report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse (2009) (Ryan Report) to review deaths and serious incidents of children in care.
I can confirm that 23 deaths of children in State Care were notified to the National Review Panel between the years 2014 to date in 2023. State Care in this context refers to children in the care of Tusla, the Child and Family Agency, in fostering or residential placements. Three deaths were notified to the National Review Panel in 2013 prior to the establishment of Tusla.
Of those 23 deaths, the majority (11) were as a result of natural causes. There were 8 deaths as a result of suicide and the remaining deaths were as a result of either medical conditions or substance abuse.
Number of Deaths
2023 to date
In respect of children known to Child Protection Services, there have been 176 deaths reported to the National Review Panel in the years 2014 to date in 2023. The majority of these deaths were by natural causes (84), followed by suicide (30). The remaining deaths were categorised as homicides, drug overdoses, road traffic accidents, other accidents and unknown. In 2013, prior to the establishment of Tusla, there were 13 deaths reported of children known to child Protection and Welfare services.
Number of deaths
2023 to date
NATIONAL REVIEW PANEL REPORTS:
“SWD B understood that Ava’s allegation of child sexual abuse would be dealt with by SWD A, and that it was likely that SWD A would interview her at that point. However, SWD A told the reviewers that children are not interviewed as part of their assessment of the alleged perpetrator. This ultimately meant that nobody in Tusla spoke to Ava about her alleged experience of sexual abuse” – Ava Report, page 2. https://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Ava_Executive_Summary.pdf
“This review recommends that the matter is drawn to the attention of the Department of Health and the HSE in order to reinforce the need to provide services for young people whose clinical diagnosis does not fit within eligibility guidelines operated by CAMHS” – Niamh Report, last page. https://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Niamh_Executive_Summary_final.pdf
“The review notes that Hugh was left without treatment for his ADHD and conduct disorders because of his drug use, due to a CAMHS policy whereby young people who are using drugs are not eligible for a service. The review panel concludes that such policies leave children and young people, especially those with diagnosed conditions, extremely vulnerable.”
Hugh report, page 3. https://www.tusla.ie/uploads/content/Hugh_executive_summary.pdf
“He said that Christmases and birthdays were a disaster; both he and his sibling always woke up to nothing. He never knew Easter existed when he was a child”. Luke Report, page 14.