Tragic suicide of young girl shines light on issue of self-harm in children

PARENTS ARE BEING urged to be open to speaking to their children about difficult issues such as self-harm and suicidal ideation after the tragic case of 11-year-oldMilly Tuomey.

An inquest into the death of the young child from Dublin in January 2016 recorded a verdict of suicide  - writes

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard that the child posted on Instagram about her intention to die on a certain date and that her parents also found a “suicide diary” along with medication indicating an attempt at self-harm.

The family did everything in their power to help Milly after they became aware of an Instagram post on 3 November 2015.

Fiona Tuomey, Milly’s mother, has since founded the Healing Untold Grief Group in order to help others and prevent future loss of life in the wake of her daughter’s death.

The case has highlighted the issue of self-harm among young children, something that is anecdotally beginning at a younger age according to child and adolescent psychotherapistDr Colman Noctor.

“Issues like anorexia, anxiety and low mood are now becoming more observable in primary school-aged children where previously this would have been more prominent in secondary school,” he

Self-harm is especially worrying when it occurs in children. The associations involved between self-harm and suicide are anxiety provoking and strike a fear in the hearts of all parents of children of all ages. Although we cannot see self-harm and suicide as mutually exclusive, sometimes they can have very different intentions.

“Sometimes self-harm is viewed as a coping strategy and is not intended as a means to end one’s life, however, in other cases, self harm may indeed act as a gateway behaviour that may lead to more lethal acts.”

Whether the worry for parents is evidence that their child may be self-harming or that their child has spoken about suicide, research has suggested that talking openly with them is the first important step.

“The most important thing to establish is the ‘reason’ why a child is engaging in self-harm. Self-harm can be best understood as a means to cope with a problem, as opposed to being the problem in and of itself. The source of a child’s anxiety and unhappiness is perhaps the most important aspect to address,” Noctor explains.

In cases of suicidal ideation it has been shown that addressing it honestly with a child makes it less likely that they will act in a way that may put their life or health at risk.

For parents who are perhaps too upset or find it too difficult to talk to their child about these issues, they are encouraged to get advice from a GP or one of the organisations that work in this area.

When approaching a child, parents are also encouraged to engage with them in a manner that is calm and non-judgemental.

“This response is best when it is a concerned and understanding approach that is not overly histrionic or punitive, “Noctor says.

A punitive reaction can risk driving the behaviour underground and promote more secrecy. The child needs to be encouraged to speak about the origin of their unhappiness and explain the motivation behind, or the perceived function of, their self-harm.

“Support them through this by whatever means necessary to help them develop skills to cope with their distress in a less maladaptive and more effective way,” he concludes.

Read also: Suicide rate has stopped rising since recession - report.
self-harminchildren suicideofyounggirl Dublin
If you notice an error, highlight the text you want and press Ctrl + Enter to report it to the editor
2 views in december
I recommend
No recommendations yet


Post your comment to communicate and discuss this article.

Anotorious Estonian hitman who travelled to Ireland to carry out a murder for the Kinahan Gang has been caged for six years. Imre Arakas, who was under garda surveillance, flew into Ireland on a murder mission to take out James “Mago” Gately. The Special Criminal Court was told that Arakas bought a wig in Dublin city and used an encrypted Blackberry phone to receive information about the movements and location of Mr Gately in Northern Ireland. The 60-year-...
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said he was "very satisfied" with the EU's position on the Irish backstop at last night's summit meeting. He said the European Union stands by the Withdrawal Agreement that was negotiated. EU leaders rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May's call for legally binding assurances on the Irish backstop and ruled out any changes to the Withdrawal Agreement. Speaking to reporters on day two of the summit in Brussels, Mr Varadkar sa...
Gardai are appealing for witnesses after a woman was allegedly sexually assaulted in a car in Dublin. The incident happened around Ballsbridge in the early hours of Sunday morning with investigators on the hunt for a man in his '20s or 30s' with short dark hair, a short beard, and glasses. A source told Dublin Live that one theory being explored is that the victim may have been in a taxi at the time. The source explained: "This woman was enjoying a night o...
Gardai have been gathering CCTV evidence at a hotel where an alleged rape involving a well-known sports star took place. Forensic experts and detectives visited the property in South Co Dublin on Tuesday night to hunt for clues. Initially it was believed the incident took place at a south inner-city hotel but after further inquiries it was determined it happened closer to the Dundrum area. A source said: “Detectives and scenes of crime gardai arrived at th...
The plans for the SDCC and Cluid housing social apartments were approved at Monday's full meeting of the council. On Monday, 81 social housing apartments for the elderly on a site beside Tallaght Stadium were approved by South Dublin County Council (SDCC) - writes This was despite a campaign calling on the council to save the land which houses a council depot at Watergate Sean Walsh Park. Local groups such as Tallaght Community Council and Ta...
Two people have been arrested following a stabbing incident in Dublin city centre. The incident happened on Essex Quay at around 4.40pm. A man aged in his late 20s was treated at the scene and taken to St James's Hospital with non-life threatening injuries following the incident. A man and woman, both aged in their 20s, were arrested at the scene and are being detained at Pearse Street Garda Station. Gardaí sealed off part of the south quays for several ho...
A kitchen went up in flames yesterday after some Christmas decorations were left on top of a microvwave. The Dublin Fire Brigade had to be called to quell the flames after tinsel caught fire having been left over a mircowave. Firefighters have warned others to be more careful with their decorating saying the tinsel was placed over the microwave's vent causing it to go up once the machine was turned on. They said: "Yesterday, Firefighters attended a kitchen...
A Dublin mother is extremely concerned for the welfare of her 15-year-old son after he never came home from the shop yesterday. Aleksejs Snitko went to the Tesco shop in Balbriggan yesterday, Saturday December 9 at around 4.30pm. His mother Iveta told Dublin Live that when her son left the home, he was wearing light grey basketball shoes, tight sport trousers and a warm navy jacket with a hoodie. He was also carrying a black and blue Puma school bag. The t...
A man and woman were arrested following a stabbing incident that left Dublin city centre on lockdown on Sunday evening. The pair were taken to Pearse st station after another man in his early 20s was hospitalised with 'non-fatal injuries'. It is believed a fight spilled out onto the road with one witness telling Dublin Live that she thought the man was going to be "throw him into the river". She said: "They stopped the traffic while they were fighting that...