Xmas treeNew figures from the NSPCC’s ChildLine service have revealed that nearly 23,000 children contacted them last December with that number expected to again rise this festive period.

More than 1,600 of these calls were young people reporting feeling suicidal, a 38% increase on the number that did so in December 2012. There was also a 36% increase in counselling sessions on low self-esteem and unhappiness with a 24% rise in the number of counselling sessions on Christmas Day itself.

Reacting to the findings that a child contacts their services on average every four minutes of Christmas Day, Director of ChildLine, Peter Liver, said: “This year, hundreds of ChildLine counsellors will be spending Christmas Day not with their families, but seeing the other side of the festive season.

"We’ll be talking to children and young people for whom Christmas can be a truly miserable time, listening to them, providing advice and support and being there for them when they can’t talk to anyone else about what they’re going through.

"It’s no exaggeration to say that ChildLine really could be the difference between life and death for some children this Christmas. Please help us be there when they need us most – a donation of just £4 could mean that a child will hear a voice at the end of the phone that lets them know they’re not alone."

The most common reason for contacting ChildLine was family relationship issues – anything from worries relating to parents separating to arguments with family members and wanting to leave home

The new figures coincide with the launch of the NSPCC’s Call for Help appeal to ensure its ChildLine service is able to offer support and hope to the thousands of children and young people expected to make contact this December.