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Almost 20,000 children reported suicidal feelings to ChildLine

Number of children reporting suicidal feelings doubles in five years

Neglected Child

ChildLine received calls once every 30 minutes from children having suicidal thoughts, the charity has revealed.

The helpline received 19,481 contacts from young people who were struggling with suicidal thoughts of ending their own lives - more than double the number five years ago. On average, ChildLine was taking 53 counselling sessions a day about suicidal thoughts last year as they dealt with record levels of young people talking about how desperate they felt.

The calls came from children as young as 10 years old.

NSPCC Chief Executive, Peter Wanless, said: “We have to understand why so many children are reaching such desperate emotional state 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,” he added.

Triggers for suicidal thoughts included turbulent home lives, mental health problems, abuse and school pressures. Up to 90% of children who have been abused will develop mental health issues by the time they're 18 and many young people were turning to the helpline as a result of not being able to access services.

There was a significant increase in the number of young people who spoke about their mental health and wellbeing. One in three counselling sessions focused on mental health problems.

Counsellors saw an 87% increase in young people struggling to access professional help predominantly for mental health services, blaming lengthy waiting lists, lack of information and 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 2015/16 Childline annual review, It Turned Out Someone Did Care found:

  • Most Childline counselling about suicidal thoughts and feelings were with 12-15 year olds
  • Girls were 6 times more likely to be counselled by Childline about suicidal thoughts and feelings than boys.
  • 1 in 3 Childline counselling sessions about suicidal feelings took place at night.


Dame Esther Rantzen, President of Childline, said: “It is deeply disturbing that in the past year nearly 20,000 children and young people contacted Childline because many of them wanted to take their own lives. I would urge any young person who feels this way to contact us.”
It Turned Out Someone Did Care is available here.


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