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Childline carried out almost 400 suicide-related counselling sessions with children in Northern Ireland last year

Childline carried out almost 400 suicide-related counselling sessions with children in Northern Ireland last year, according to its latest report
Marie Louise McConville

CHILDLINE carried out almost 400 suicide-related counselling sessions with children in Northern Ireland last year, according to its latest report.

The charity said it carried out the 387 sessions through its free and confidential helpline. The figure compared to the 349 sessions carried out the previous year.

The calls, which all related to suicidal thoughts, concerned a number of key issues including sexual/gender identity, drugs/substance misuse, sexual abuse and eating disorders.

Across the UK, the NSPCC's round-the-clock service delivered 22,456 counselling sessions with children - the youngest aged ten - who were tormented by suicidal thoughts.

It was found to be the third most common reason for girls to contact Childline while it is the fifth most common for boys.

Mental health issues, family relationships, and self-harm were the top three additional concerns mentioned during suicide counselling sessions.

According to the report, young people were most likely to be counselled about suicidal thoughts and feelings on Monday evenings, and the majority of children confided to counsellors online, via the charity's 1-2-1 chat service, or by email.

The NSPCC last night called on members of the public to volunteer as Childline counsellors to help a child and "even potentially save a life".

Esther Rantzen, Childline founder and President, said the latest figures proved that Childline is "more crucial than ever and, for some, literally a lifeline".

"I would urge members of the public to consider becoming a Childline volunteer. Anyone who can lend a few hours to this vital service could end up saving a child's life," she said.

Mairead Monds, Childline service manager for Northern Ireland, said: "We must face the painful reality that many young people feel so overwhelmed by their problems they have considered taking their own, precious lives.

"We have never seen figures like these before and they are a blunt wake up call".

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