Warning: Contains references to suicide
A mental health advocate is encouraging a community to support one another after a note found at the scene of a 10-year-old boy's death suggests he took his own life.
The year five student, who has not been named, passed away at his school campus south of Wollongong in New South Wales on Wednesday (10 August).
He died after paramedics made desperate attempts to save him, sadly with no success. Police have said there are no suspicious circumstances surrounding the young boy's death, with a note found at the scene suggesting he took his own life.
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It's unclear who first found the unconscious child, but his classmates and other schoolchildren are not thought to have witnessed the incident.
Emergency service workers have been offered counselling to help them come to terms with the young boy's death, while a spokesperson for the Catholic Education Diocese of Wollongong has assured help will also be available to staff and students.
They commented: "Following the death, the school and the Catholic Education Office have been and will continue providing comprehensive support to the school community, including counselling for staff and students."
“Local police and health services have provided significant assistance, and there is ongoing liaison with the Department of Education,” the spokesperson added.
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Mental health advocate Ian Hickie, who is also the former CEO of Australian mental health organisation Beyondblue, urged the community to try and pull together in the wake of the incident.
Speaking to The Saturday Telegraph, he commented: "It’s really tough when tragedies happen and we need to support each other."
Hickie noted that the coronavirus outbreak had a huge impact on children's mental health, with millions of students having been forced to avoid socialising with friends and turn to having school lessons at home in a bid to prevent the spread of the virus.
"Pre-Covid we were seeing increased rates of psychological distress and self-harming behaviour in younger people and younger ages of onset," Hickie explained, adding: "Then we had Covid come along and that’s been really tough for young people, particularly school age and early post-school years."
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“The upside is the community is aware, parents are aware, schools are aware, our general awareness of the extent to which young people are struggling has gone up.”
Hickie added that it is the 'extent to which these communities', including the school community, manage to 'pull together and don't blame each other' that will help members of the public cope with the death.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence, please don’t suffer alone. Call Samaritans for free on their anonymous 24-hour phone line on 116 123