Children seeking help with suicidal thoughts and self-harming reached a peak during lockdown

Responding to the data, Andrew Fellowes, NSPCC public affairs manager said: “There is no doubt that the coronavirus pandemic has had a direct impact on the mental health of many of our children and young people across the country. 

“It is imperative that Childline can continue to be there to ensure that young people are supported to cope and recover from the aftermath of this crisis.

“While the Government’s training scheme to help teachers support children with mental health concerns is a welcome step, it must equip schools to recognise and act on the signs of unmet needs of abuse and neglect. 

“They must also maintain their commitment to prioritise funding for children’s mental health and ensure services can reach those children who have suffered the most in lockdown.”

Among the callers to Childline was one 15-year-old girl. She said: “I have been getting bullied by a boy at my school for the past few years. 

“I get called names, have had my things stolen, received threats about my family and he has hit me so hard it left a bruise. 

“At times, I have thought about ending my own life. School are aware of this and put some measures in place but the bullying never stopped until we went into lockdown. 

“Now I have to go back to school and I am really stressed and worried about it starting up again.” 

The Childline figures come as another charity which supports suicidal young people and their loved ones said that almost all phone calls its helpline were coronavirus-related. 

PAPYRUS, a UK Charity for the prevention of young suicide, runs a national helpline, HOPELineUK, staffed by a team of mental health professionals who provide practical help to young people and anyone worried about a young person.

During lockdown, which was imposed on March 23, the charity analysed data which showed that 90 per cent of all of the hundreds of calls, text service were coronavirus-related. 

Concerns linked to physical and mental health, uncertainty regarding academic futures, struggles to access support services and loneliness and isolation were recurring themes that emerged during calls to the helpline.

The charity said there was a particular surge in late May and early June, with many concerned about a loss of income, reduction in service provision, domestic violence and abuse, and the potential to become infected with coronavirus.

However, charity workers emphasised that “although we know many young people are struggling at the moment, it is important to remember that suicide is extremely complex. 

“A combination of things contribute to a person’s risk of suicide and it is seldom the result of a single factor.”

The charity also said that almost 40 per cent of the calls, texts and emails to its HOPELineUK service are from someone who is concerned about a young person who may be having thoughts of suicide. Around 80 per cent of the callers are parents. The data relates to calls made between January and August this year. 

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. According to the latest government data, the rate of suicides in Britain has risen sharply to its highest level since 2002, with men accounting for three-quarters of the number of people who took their own lives. 

A total of 6,507 suicides were registered by coroners in the UK – 11.2 per 100,000 people – in 2018, up 11.8 per cent on the previous year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

The figures come amid mounting concern over an increase in the rates of young people aged 10 to 24 killing themselves, with the overall rate for that age group reaching a 19-year high, and the rate for young females reaching an all-time high.

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