Belfast Telegraph

Childline contacted by suicidal child in Northern Ireland almost every day

Childline was contacted by a young person from Northern Ireland who was experiencing suicidal thoughts almost everyday last year, it has been revealed.

Figures released today by the the NSPCC show that across the UK, Childline carried out an average of 53 suicide counselling sessions a day last year as they dealt with record levels of children talking about the problem.

The NSPCC’s round-the-clock service dealt with 19,481 contacts from young people across the UK who were plagued with thoughts of ending their own lives – more than double the number five years ago and an average of 53 suicide counselling sessions a day. A total of 349 of these contacts came from children living in Northern Ireland – almost one each day.

Girls were six times more likely to contact Childline about suicidal thoughts and feelings than boys and those at most risk were aged between 12 and 15.

Children tended to feel more desperate in the winter months, with a third calling Childline counsellors at night, according to the service’s annual report ‘It Turned Out Someone Did Care’ which has been published today.

Many of the calls dealt with by counsellors had to be referred to emergency services.

Turbulent home life, abuse, school pressures, and mental health conditions were all major triggers for suicidal thoughts, with children as young as ten telling us how desperate they were.

The charity said there was a significant rise in the number of young people who spoke about their mental health, with a third of counselling sessions concentrating on the issue.

Many were single-handedly dealing with problems as counsellors saw an 87% increase across the UK  in young people struggling to access professional help, blaming lengthy waiting lists, lack of information or refusal of help.

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.

The NSPCC is demanding government in the UK and the NI Assembly commit investment to ensure all children who have suffered abuse receive the right support to prevent them developing mental health conditions.

The children's charity in Northern Ireland is calling for children and young people to feature as a priority group in the NI Department of Health’s updated Protect Life Suicide Prevention Strategy.

Childline service manager for Northern Ireland, Mairead Monds, said: “Our It’s Time campaign is calling on government to fill a crucial gap in child protection and the calls we are increasingly receiving at Childline show just how urgently this is needed.”

“We need to understand that there are children and young people living in Northern Ireland that are experiencing significant mental health problems, self-esteem issues, isolation and feelings of worthlessness.”

“These are children who have very little support and who very often feel that life is simply not worth living. They see Childline as an essential line of support; we are there to listen to them and help them find a way to overcome their problems.”

If you are affected by this story or are a child in need of help you can contact Childline confidentially on Freephone 0800 1111 or goto the Childline website, for counselling chat, emails or message boards.

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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