A study has found three-in-five children admitted to a Melbourne hospital for suicidal behaviour had been bullied and more than half reported family trauma.
Family trauma, bullying, poor sleep and living in a single-parent home have been identified as common risk factors for suicidal behaviour among Australian adolescents.
Researchers at the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute reviewed all admissions to the mental health unit at Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne between October 2013 and September 2014.
In total, there were 271 adolescents admitted during the period, with 212 (78 per cent) due to suicidal behaviours.
Most participants were admitted on one occasion only, with one-quarter (25.5 per cent) admitted prior to the age of 10.
Further analysis of clinical reports and past medical history found overwhelmingly the kids who were admitted to hospital for suicidal behaviour came from traumatic backgrounds.
Three-in-five had been bullied, more than half reported significant family trauma, such as as witnessing a parent have a drug overdose or being incarcerated, said lead researcher Dr Rohan Borschmann.
"One-in-four reported sexual abuse and one-in-five reported physical abuse, so they are really quite traumatic histories that the people are reporting to us," said Dr Borschmann.
The findings, published in the Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health on Monday, also showed three quarters reported sleeping difficulties.
More than half (65.6 per cent) reported their parents were no longer together.
It's hoped the risk profile generated by the researchers MCRI will be used to improve the identification of young Australians highly vulnerable to self-harm and suicide to stop the stop the unnecessary waste of young life.
"Self-harm and suicide are both major public health problems in young people in Australia and throughout the world, so if we can aim to reduce the rates then that would be a fantastic outcome," Dr Borschmann said.
"It's really good to see the government has just announced $125 million in funding for mental health research over the next 10 years, so we would ideally like to see some of that money come towards self-harm prevention and suicide prevention," he said.
Readers seeking support and information about suicide prevention can contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.