Contacts to Childline about suicide have reached their highest ever level, one of a number of findings in the organisation’s annual report ‘It Turned Out Someone Did Care’.
In the year 2015/16 Childline conducted 19,481 counselling sessions with those who contacted them expressing suicidal thoughts and feelings, more than double the number of five years ago. On average, 53 children and young people got in touch every day to tell Childline that they had considered taking their own lives.
Most of these counselling sessions involved 12- to 15-year-olds, with one in three sessions taking place at night. It was also found that girls were six times more likely than boys to relate their suicidal thoughts and feelings to Childline.
Mental health and wellbeing issues accounted for a third of all the counselling sessions that Childline held in 2015/16, showing that suicidal thoughts is part of a broader problem among the UK’s increasingly stressed children and young people.
One 15-year-old girl who called the helpline said: "I’ve got exams coming up which is causing arguments with my family. I don’t know if I can cope much longer so I've been thinking about suicide and have planned how to do it. For now, self-harming helps, but every time I cut, they get deeper and I'm scared it's going to go too deep one day."
Childline lists abuse, school pressures, mental health conditions and a turbulent home life as major triggers for suicidal thoughts.
Worryingly, the report’s findings indicate an 87% increase in Childline users struggling to access professional help, predominantly for mental health services. They cite lengthy waiting lists, inadequate information and being refused help as factors that have driven them to crisis point.
NSPCC Chief Executive, Peter Wanless, said: "We have to understand why so many children are reaching such desperate emotional states that they feel they have no option but to end their lives."
“As a society, we cannot be content that a generation of children feel so worthless, alone and cut off from support. It is up to all of us to help them feel that life is worth living."