Big rise in number of suicidal children

THE number of suicidal children asking a charity for help in the region has doubled in five years, new figures have revealed.As many as five suicidal youngsters from the region are counselled by ChildLine every week, according a report published today by the NSPCC.

THE number of suicidal children asking a charity for help in the region has doubled in five years, new figures have revealed.

As many as five suicidal youngsters from the region are counselled by ChildLine every week, according a report published today by the NSPCC.

At ChildLine East Midlands and East Anglia 258 calls were received in 2007-8 from children who said they were feeling suicidal. Some had already attempted to take their lives while others made attempts when on the phone to a counsellor.

The number was made up of 215 girls and 43 boys calling the service, and represents a rise from 129 calls recorded in 2003-4.


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The NSPCC has now called for training for teachers and doctors to enable them to spot the suicide warning signs before children reach crisis point.

Jan Chown, ChildLine children's services manager in the region, said: 'Suicidal children tell us they feel utterly lonely and helpless and, apart from ChildLine, nobody seems to care whether they live or die.

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'Our counsellors are trained to deal with suicide calls so they can assess the danger and how best to help.

'It is heartbreaking to listen to children talk of wanting to consider suicide. For a suicidal child, ChildLine can literally be a lifeline.

'For some children, saying they want to take their own lives themselves is a cry for help, while others see it as the only way to escape their problems. While many callers will not actually attempt suicide we treat every call as extremely serious.'

For many children the charity speaks to, the reasons for their suicidal thoughts are a history of abuse, neglect, family problems or mental health issues.

Others tell counsellors they have been driven to the brink by bullying, the divorce of their parents, the death of someone close to them or exam stress.

Ms Chown added: 'Children can hide their distress so effectively that parents may have no idea their child is suicidal.

'We want parents to be given guidance on how to spot possible signs, how to listen to their child's worries and where to find help. '

The NSPCC has also called for teachers and doctors to be trained to identify suicide distress signs before children reach crisis point.

The charity said therapy should also be available for all children who have suffered abuse - nationally a fifth of those who called ChildLine about suicide said they had been sexually abused while a third said they had been physically abused.

Across the UK of those children who gave their age, over half were between the ages of 12 and 15 and one in sixteen was aged 11 years old or under. The ChildLine number is 0800 11 11.

EXAMPLES of calls received by ChildLine (the names have been changed to protect the caller's identity):

Ten-year-old Sophie told a counsellor: 'I hate my life now dad's gone because I get blamed for everything and mum is in the pub every day.

'We never have any money because of her drinking and I've got no friends now. I just want to die.'

Another caller, 13-year-old Paul said: 'I feel like killing myself. My mum and dad beat me and I'm getting bullied at school.

'I don't have anyone else to turn to except Childline. No-one else would be able to help me. I'm scared of telling anyone.'

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