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Record number of children phone Childline about suicidal thoughts

Image: Pixabay/giesje

The NSPCC have said that in the last year, Childline received an average of one call every 30 minutes from children in the UK with suicidal thoughts.


Childline said, in its annual report, that it was receiving about 53 calls a day about suicide. Those tormented by suicidal thoughts contacted Childline 19,481 times – more than double the number five years ago.

The charity said it referred many callers to the emergency services, adding that a lack of support was leading children to reach crisis point.

The government insists it is investing in children’s mental health services. In 2015-16, Childline staff took 3,250 calls about children struggling to gain access to mental health support.

The report said: “The chronic shortage of support is forcing many children to wait until they reach crisis point, when they feel the only place they can turn to is Childline.”

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “We have to understand why so many children are reaching such a desperate emotional state that they feel they have no option but to end their lives.’’

Esther Rantzen, who is president of Childline, said: ‘It is deeply disturbing that in the past year nearly 20,000 children and young people contacted Childline because they felt so deeply unhappy that many of them wanted to take their own lives.’’

‘’I would urge any young person who feels this way to contact us. It really does make a difference to speak to someone who cares about you, and wants to listen.

 ‘’It is crucial we ask ourselves why children in this country feel so lonely, and so desperate, that they have to turn to us for help and support.’’

A troubled home life, abuse, school pressures, and mental health conditions all played a big role for suicidal thoughts, with children as young as ten calling Childline.

One 15-year-old girl said: ‘I am so stressed out with schoolwork and I’ve got exams coming up, which is causing arguments with my family. I don’t know if I can cope much longer, so I have been thinking about suicide and have planned how to do it.”

According to the Association of School and College Leaders, Childline’s report echoed the findings of a recent survey in which eight out of 10 school and college leaders who responded reported a rise in self-harm or suicidal thoughts among students.

Last year, head teachers warned MPs they were having to call 999 to get help with mentally ill pupils.

A Department of Health spokesman said: “We have made huge strides in the way we think about and treat mental illness – moving from a society that locks people away in asylums to one giving mental health equal priority in law – but we must do more.

“It is positive that more people feel able to discuss their mental health, but this must be matched by the right support, which is why we are investing a record £1.4bn to help young people in every area of the country before they reach crisis point.”



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