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Five Kent children have taken their own lives since outbreak of coronavirus

Five children in Kent have taken their own lives since the outbreak of coronavirus, it has been revealed.

Kent County Council education chief Sarah Hammond says each of the youngsters, aged between 13 and 17, had special needs, including autism spectrum disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

School classroom. Stock picture
School classroom. Stock picture

The director of integrated children's services believes their conditions could have made it difficult for them to cope without the routine provided by school during lockdown.

Ms Hammond told The Guardian: "We are absolutely desperate for children and young people not to become the forgotten victims of this terrible virus.

"I do believe that people thought that the vulnerable children would continue to go to school."

The deaths involved three boys and two girls - most of whom were known to mental health support services - and took place over the last six months.

It is also understood that two more teenage boys attempted to take their own and consequently suffered life-changing injuries.

"We are absolutely desperate for children and young people not to become the forgotten victims of this terrible virus..."

This comes as new figures from the National Child Mortality Database show there were 25 child suicides during the first 56 days of lockdown.

Ms Hammond says the cases in Kent underline the role schools play in safeguarding children.

She added: "We worked really, really hard to get parents to send their children in, but we never got above 10% (of vulnerable children entitled to a school place).

"All through this pandemic, this whole group of children could and should have been at school.

"But it was the severity of message about the danger of the virus that very understandably frightened parents."

Ms Hammond also states that during an ordinary year, up to three child suicides would be expected each year.

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