In Brief

Record number of UK children reporting suicidal thoughts

Report shows NSPCC provided 62 counselling sessions a day for desperate kids and teenagers last year

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A record number of children have sought help from the Childline helpline over suicidal thoughts in the past year, according to a report by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC).

The charity says that it provided an average of 62 counselling sessions every day for children contemplating ending their own lives - some of them as young as ten years old.

The figures, presented as part of the charity’s annual review, represent a 15% increase on the previous year.

Of a total 22,456 Childline counselling sessions delivered to young people with suicidal thoughts, reports The Guardian, 2,061 were for children or teenagers deemed to be “actively suicidal” - a term reserved for people who have written suicide notes, given away meaningful items, or planned their method of suicide.

The report also said that some young people described having difficulty getting NHS help from their local child and adolescent mental health service.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said: “We have never seen figures like these before and they are a blunt wake-up call.”

A spokesman for the charity added: “Without appropriate support for young people, many are shouldering their troubles single-handedly and turning to Childline only when they reach crisis point.”

The report finding were described by Childline founder Esther Rantzen as “tragic”.

“When Childline launched over 30 years ago, I remember children usually felt suicidal because they were being hurt by someone,” she said. “Now young people tell us they are overwhelmed by mental health issues, taking them to the brink of suicide.”

Childline in the UK can be reached on 0800 1111, or by confidential email via its website.

Anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts can call the Samaritans free on 116 123 or contact them online for confidential, 24-hour support. 

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