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ChildLine use up after web launch

The number of children troubled by suicide, depression and self-harm calling on a national helpline has trebled since the service went online, figures have shown.

ChildLine received more than 30,000 inquiries over these three issues in 2010/11, including 19,000 online in the first full year of the service being available over the internet, compared with 10,000 calls the previous year.

More than 60% of all counselling about suicide, depression and mental health issues took place online last year, the figures showed.

Sue Minto, head of ChildLine, said it was unclear whether more children were suffering from mental health problems or if they simply found it easier to discuss such issues online.

"Most children who contact us online are deeply troubled. In many cases, they will be struggling to cope with inner feelings they can't control or understand. Others tell counsellors how they hurt themselves in an attempt to alleviate their pain.

"Sadly, for some, those feelings become so overwhelming they see no other option but to give up on life," she said.

Overall, ChildLine received almost 275,000 counselling enquiries last year, 44% more than in 2009/10. Bullying, family concerns and physical and sexual abuse were among some of the most common calls, the figures showed.

Speaking ahead of the 25th anniversary of ChildLine being launched on Sunday, its founder Esther Rantzen added: "Eight suicidal children contact ChildLine every single day. It makes me especially proud as our 25th anniversary arrives that we can say, for the first time in ChildLine's history, we can now answer almost every call the first time a child rings.

"But to continue this we need the support of the public and our volunteers. Money is always tight and every penny helps towards keeping this vital lifeline going."

ChildLine, a free, confidential 24-hour helpline for children and young people, can be contacted on 0800 1111.


From Belfast Telegraph