While still rare, suicide rates among Irish children have increased, especially among 15- to 17-year-olds, research published yesterday shows.

Researchers from University College Dublin and St Vincent's University Hospital, Dublin, analysed age and sex-specific suicide mortality data from 1993-1998 and compared it with similar data from 2003-2008 for those aged 18 and under.

The results, published in the current issue of the Irish Medical Journal, show that overall suicide rates in both males and females have increased.

Suicide in children under 15 was extremely rare in both decades, with average overall rates of 1.6/100,000.

Suicide occurred significantly more often in boys, and more commonly between ages 15 and 17 in both sexes.

Commenting on the research, lead author Prof Kevin Malone said, "A wave of young people is currently moving through Irish society where suicide rates amongst their peers have increased substantially from those of their parents . . . Yet mental health services in Ireland are currently under-developed for the children within this age group [16- to 18-year-olds] transitioning from child to adult support."