‘We have never seen figures like these’ – warning as more young Scots seek Childline help

CHILDLINE carried out more than 1000 anti-suicide counselling sessions with Scottish youngsters last year as more said they may end their lives, it has emerged.

A total of 1095 sessions were held with at-risk young people, according to the service’s annual review.

The figure marks an increase from 935 the previous year and the 17 per cent rise is higher than the 15 per cent total recorded for the UK as a whole.

Elaine Chalmers, head of helplines for Childline in Scotland, said: “We have never seen figures like these before and they are a blunt wake up call.”

For the UK as a whole, Childline delivered 22,456 sessions with young people reporting suicidal thoughts last year.

Suicide is the third most common reason for girls to contact the free service and the fifth most common for boys.

Issues using chat and email services surrounding mental health, family and self-harm were the most widely mentioned additional concerns reported during sessions.

Others discussed sexual abuse, homelessness, substance abuse, eating disorders and issues surrounding their sexuality or gender identity.

The youngest person helped was just ten years old and some of those reaching out for help had written suicide notes, given away meaningful items or taken other “initial steps” to ending their lives.

However, the service warns it “only has the resources to be there for three in every four young people that reach out for help”, meaning some children and teenagers may not be able to access the support they need.

Chalmers said: “We must face the painful reality that many young people across Scotland and the UK feel so overwhelmed by their problems they have considered taking their own, precious lives.

“Young people must know life is worth living and they can lead a life rich in possibilities and happiness.

“When they are suffering from problems it’s vital they get the right help swiftly before these issues snowball into suicidal feelings or even attempts to end their lives. I would urge any child who is feeling this way to take that first step and talk to Childline; our counsellors are always there for them.”

Childline is now seeking volunteers and donations to help support more vulnerable children and teenagers.

Founder and president Esther Rantzen expressed concern over the increased need for help and the reasons reported by callers: “Today’s tragic statistics prove that Childline is more crucial than ever and, for some, literally a lifeline.

“When Childline launched over 30 years ago, I remember children usually felt suicidal because they were being hurt by someone. Now young people tell us they are overwhelmed by mental health issues taking them to the brink of suicide.

“We must discover why so many of our young people feel so isolated they turn to Childline because they believe no one else cares about them.”



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