Rise in number of children expressing suicidal thoughts

An average of five children a day in Scotland are contacting a helpline as a result of suicidal thoughts and feelings

Tes Reporter

Rise in counselling sessions involving suicide thoughts

An average of five children a day in Scotland are contacting a helpline as a result of suicidal thoughts and feelings.

Children's charity the NSPCC said the number of counselling sessions for those thinking of taking their own lives has risen sharply in three years, to 1,781 in 2018-19.

Young people contacting the charity with suicidal thoughts and feelings spoke of concerns about mental health, self-harm, family relationships and problems in education.


Children’s health: ‘Painful facts we cannot ignore’

Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children: Key findings

Quick read: Counselling offered to all Scottish secondary students


Across the UK, there were 24,447 counselling sessions for children thinking of taking their own lives.

These were mainly teenagers but there was a sharp rise in number of children under 11 seeking help in recent years.

Girls were five times more likely to speak about these types of feelings than boys.

Hollie tried to take her own life as a teenager while suffering from chronic anxiety and said the service was her "lifeline".

She said: "Following a suicide attempt, I contacted Childline and spoke to a counsellor about how I was feeling.

"It was that conversation that stopped me from trying to take my life again when I got off the phone.

"Over the next couple of years, I stopped talking, walking, eating and taking care of myself. There were also more stays in hospital.

"Yet despite not talking to anyone, I would often call Childline and chat to a counsellor when I was feeling low. The service was my lifeline during my darkest hours."

The NSPCC is launching a campaign, KIDS In Real Life, urging the public to help them save a child's life, calling for donations and pledges to protect children.

Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen said: "When we launched Childline in 1986, the majority of calls were from young people describing pain caused by someone else. This could include abuse, bullying or neglect.

"But over the last 10 years we have seen a rise in the number of children describing their feelings of such intense unhappiness that they tell Childline they want to end their own lives.

"This new campaign highlights that many of these profoundly unhappy young people hide their feelings to those around them online, bottling up their suicidal thoughts, which may become overwhelming

"Worryingly, we don't have the resources to be there for every child who needs us, which is why it is so important the public get behind #KIDS_IRL and supports the NSPCC in their mission to be there for all the young people who reach out in their darkest hour."

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Tes Reporter

Latest stories

Classroom humour: Teacher pranks that annoy pupils

10 teacher pranks that annoy pupils

From referring to 'InstaChat' to telling tall stories, here are some of the ways staff give themselves a laugh in class
Dave Speck 17 May 2021
Woman, squeezed into cardboard box

Why I can't stand set lesson plans

Any one-size-fits-all structure imposed on classroom teachers risks removing the joy from learning, says Megan Mansworth
Megan Mansworth 17 May 2021