Calls to ChildLine about self-harm and suicide have increased by more than a third in the past year, according to a new report from the organisation.
ChildLine’s report, Can I Tell You Something?, found that number of young people calling about self-harm increased by 41% in the past year. This is the second year in succession that the number has increased.
Where age was known, 70% of the contacts ChildLine received about self-harm came from young people aged between 12-15 years.
In addition, there was a 33% increase in young people talking about suicidal thoughts and feelings. For 16-18 year olds, suicide was the third most common reason to contact ChildLine.
While 17 year olds are the age group most commonly affected by issues relating to suicide, the biggest increase year-on-year was among 12-15-year-olds.
ChildLine also reported an 87% increase in the number of calls relating to cyberbullying in the past year. Young people told ChildLine that the 24-hour nature of online bullying means there's no escape and can lead to serious feelings of isolation, low self-esteem and, in a few cases, even suicide.
In the foreword to the report, Peter Liver, director of ChildLine Services, said: “These statistics are alarming and while it is good that young people are seeking our help rather than suffering in silence, I believe together we must do more.”
Barbara McIntosh, head of children and young people at the Mental Health Foundation, said: “These figures confirm the urgent need to tackle the escalating problems of child and adolescent mental health in the UK. The fact that the top issues affecting young people last year were depression and unhappiness is very worrying. We know half of all lifetime mental health problems have their roots in childhood so prevention and help early on are essential to ensure young people’s wellbeing.
“Early intervention and appropriate, youth friendly services are vital if we are to prevent mental health problems from becoming chronic and enduring in adulthood. The great economic benefits are compelling, with a potential saving of £150,000 per child alongside the reduction in anguish faced by each young person and his or her family.
“We know from the Children & Young People’s Mental Health Coalition that 1 in 3 Joint Health and Wellbeing strategies do not prioritise children and young people’s mental health.
“There is increasing pressure on statutory services but we need to see more joint-up working and greater investment across the voluntary sector, CAHMS, local authorities and schools to maximise prevention and support this and future generations of children and young people.”