Sunday, September 02, 2007

Mary McAleese, President of Ireland, last week welcomed delegates to a congress on suicide prevention. Amongst the topics discussed was suicide attempts by children. Professor Carol Fitzpatrick, an expert in child psychiatry at University College Dublin, reported her study which had found that, of the more than 400 children and young people referred to hospital because of attempted suicide, about 10% were aged 11 or under, and some were much younger.

Speaking on Friday, Mary McAleese pointed out that bullying sometimes features in the story of suicide. Speaking to the 24th International Congress on Suicide Prevention in Killarney, Ireland, she said gay people in Ireland encounter a hurtful undercurrent of bias and hostility. “For many it [being gay] is a discovery which is made against a backdrop where, within their immediate circle of family and friends as well as the wider society, they have long encountered anti-gay attitudes which will do little to help them deal openly and healthily with their own sexuality.”

On 13 March 2006 there was a Newsround Extra programme dealing with childhood depression (see blog on 2 April 2006). It was a programme which could have been relevant and helpful, but it's the sort of programme which CBBC is seeming to avoid completely now.

For a while this spring and summer it seemed that CBBC might be beginning to address the kind of problem President McAleese was talking about. The Your Life messageboard had started to include a few posts from lgbt kids or about lgbt-relevant issues (blogs on 24 May & 26 June 2007). Two months later there are very few lgbt messages, and I recently put it to the Head of CBBC that they are being filtered out again.

The day before most kids began the new school term a year ago, CBBC's agony uncle was on TV a few times during the day to help sort out worries and problems sent in by viewers. This year there was no such help.

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