Ireland has the fourth highest teen suicide rate in the EU/OECD region, according to UNICEF.
The organisation’s latest Report Card on child well-being finds that Ireland has an above average international suicide rate (10.3 per 100,000 population) in the 15-19 age group between 2008 and 2013.
It means Ireland ranks 34th out of 37 wealthy nations surveyed in the report – “Building the Future: Children and the Sustainable Development Goals in Rich Countries”.
It is the first report to assess the status of children in 41 high-income countries in relation to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) identified as most important for child well-being. The SDGs were launched in 2016.
It ranks countries based on their performance against the SDGs, and details the challenges and opportunities that advanced economies face in achieving global commitments to children.
UNICEF Ireland Chief Executive Peter Power said:
“UNICEF’s latest Report Card serves as a wake-up call for Ireland.
“Despite economic recovery and the idea that the consequent rising tide will benefit everyone, it is clear children are experiencing real and substantial inequality and we risk leaving them behind. Services are inadequate in several areas and policy change is badly needed.”
The report also shows a worrying rise in self-reported adolescent mental health issues, showing that teenagers themselves have concerns about their mental health.
It claims that 22.6% of children aged 11-15 report experiencing two or more psychological symptoms more than once a week.
- Other significant findings for Ireland
- 18.3% of children are living in relative income poverty – RANK: 17TH
- 23% of children are living in multidimensional poverty – RANK: 10TH
- 17.9% of children under 15 live with an adult who is food insecure – RANK: 33RD
- 9.1% of 15-19-year-olds are not in education, employment or training – RANK: 30TH
- 18.8% of children under 18 live in jobless households – RANK: 37TH
- Teen birth rate drops to 10.09 births per 1,000 girls age 15-19 (17.36 in 2005) – RANK: 25TH
- Number of teens reporting being drunk in the past month down to 4.8% – RANK: 8TH
Across the 41 countries in the survey, one in five children in high-income countries lives in relative income poverty and an average of one in eight faces food insecurity, rising to one in five in the UK.
For some indicators – income inequality, adolescent self-reported mental health and obesity – the trends suggest cause for concern in the majority of rich countries. In two out of three countries studied, the poorest households with children are now further behind the average than they were in 2008.
The rate of obesity among 11–15-year-olds and the rate of adolescents reporting two or more mental health problems a week is increasing in the majority of countries.
Although many countries have seen broad progress, there are wide gaps between them.
National income levels fail to explain all of the differences: for example, Slovenia is far ahead of wealthier countries on many indicators, while the United States ranks 37 of 41 in the summary league table.
- UNICEF has called for high-income countries to take action in five areas:
- Put children at the heart of equitable and sustainable progress – Improving the well-being of all children today is essential for achieving both equity and sustainability.
- Leave no child behind – National averages often conceal extreme inequalities and the severe disadvantage of groups at the bottom of the scale.
- Improve the collection of comparable data – in particular on violence against children, early childhood development, migration and gender.
- Use the rankings to help tailor policy responses to national contexts – No country does well on all indicators of well-being for children and all countries face challenges in achieving at least some child-focused SDG targets.
- Honour the commitment to global sustainable development – The overarching SDG framework engages all countries in a global endeavour.