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Boys in Northern Ireland less likely to admit to suicidal thoughts, says NSPCC

Boys in Northern Ireland are half as likely to admit to suicidal thoughts and feelings, the NSPCC said.

The charity's Childline service delivered more than twice as many counselling sessions to girls than boys last year.

More than twice as many boys aged from 10 to 19 died by suicide in 2015.

Neil Anderson, head of the NSPCC for Northern Ireland, said: "We need to see a greater focus on children and young people when looking at how we can tackle the issues around suicide in Northern Ireland.

"Northern Ireland still has the highest suicide rate for 10 to 14-year-olds, and it is vital that young people get the support they need as early as possible so they do not reach the point where they are in crisis.

"Children need to be able to access the services they need when they need them most."

The NSPCC is calling for the Stormont Department of Health's suicide prevention strategy to have a greater focus on children and young people.

The charity also wants to see increased investment to address the lack of specialised mental health services for children across Northern Ireland and is encouraging the department to promote Childline as a support network for young people to try to tackle the issues of self-harm and suicide.

Mr Anderson added: "Children struggling with suicidal feelings can often feel alone, with nobody to talk to and nowhere to turn for help.

"For boys in particular it can be harder to ask for help due to reluctance to talk about their feelings, and this is highlighted by the fact that girls across Northern Ireland were over twice as likely to contact Childline for help on the issue than boys."

In 2015/16, Childline delivered more than twice as many counselling sessions to girls in Northern Ireland compared with boys where the child's gender was known, with 70 sessions delivered to boys and 168 to girls.

A new Childline campaign, Tough to Talk, is encouraging boys to speak out about suicidal thoughts and feelings.

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