HealthWorld News

Parents call for urgent investment in child mental health services to save young lives

Deanne and Graham Kirkman felt so let down by the mental health support available to their teenage daughter Mikayla in 2016, they started planning her funeral while she was still alive.

It was their third visit to the Women’s and Children’s Hospital (WCH) and Deanne Kirkman knew it would be the last.

Staff had told her there was nothing they could do to help Mikayla and sent her home, Ms Kirkman said.

“It was at that point that I left the hospital with absolutely no hope, knowing that I would never return there,” she said.

“Instead of getting the help, I started planning for a funeral.”

A couple of months later, at age 16, Mikayla took her own life.

Now, she lives on through photos and memories and a special garden in her parents’ front yard.

As the state election looms, Mikayla’s parents felt compelled to speak out, motivated to ensure no other family goes through the same experience they did.

The Kirkmans are desperate to see funding for youth mental health increase, leading to more beds and child psychiatrists.

According to a federal Department of Health website, suicide is the leading cause of death among young Australians with more than 350 people aged between 18 and 24 taking their own lives every year.

“If this many people were dying of cancer, they would be throwing the money at it,” Ms Kirkman said.

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