Published Monday, 12 November 2012
The report was launched on Monday. (© UTV)
Patricia Lewsley-Mooney was speaking as she launched the 'Still Vulnerable' report, which contains recommendations designed to better support and protect young people at risk of suicide.
"The loss of a child or young person due to suicide or accidental death is a tragedy and I am deeply aware of the profound impact of this loss on everyone it touches," said Mrs Lewsley-Mooney.
The report outlines how exposure to problems in early childhood - including substance abuse, neglect or bullying - is linked to poor outcomes in later years, including suicide in adolescence.
"Too often negative early childhood experiences mean that teenagers are not able to deal with additional pressures as they grow older," said the Commissioner.
Mrs Lewsley - Mooney explained that experiences in childhood affect how a person learns to cope with life problems - reduced resilience and ability to cope may mean young people are more vulnerable to risks such as suicide and accidental death.
"Sadly, Northern Ireland continues to experience higher rates of suicide among adolescents and young adults than other parts of the United Kingdom.
"Suicide is a complex phenomenon and unfortunately there is no single solution," said the Commissioner.
"Adolescent suicide requires an approach that is not just focused on responding to an immediate crisis or problem.
"Services and support should be provided on an individual basis, from an early stage and delivered in a sustained and co-ordinated manner to limit negative life experiences.
"Young people may present with what adults can view as 'challenging' behaviour, however this is often a result of negative life experiences and a reduced ability to cope.
"The research reminds us that services must be designed to engage these most vulnerable young people, in order to support and protect them."
The Commissioner believes everyone has a role to play in reducing suicide rates among young people.
"If we are going to address and indeed change attitudes and approaches to this sensitive and complex issue we have to work together", said Mrs Lewsley-Mooney.
"There is a need for parents, carers, community groups and friends to look out for and act if they have concerns about a young person.
"Every professional in children's social care, health, education and criminal justice services must be trained and supported to identify children who are vulnerable, such as those suffering from depression, and be more responsive in addressing their needs.
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"I will be working with various government ministers and departments, with responsibility for these agencies, to present these recommendations and will highlight the importance of implementing them into work practice."