Scottish children make 934 calls about suicide to Childline a year

Date: 20th September 2016
Category: Mental health

Childline received more than 900 inquiries from children in Scotland contemplating suicide last year, according to a new NSPCC UK report.

Childline, which is run by the NSPCC, says it has received 934 calls and online inquiries from suicidal children and young people over the past year - an average of 18 per week. The rise in Scotland is mirrored across the UK. In many cases, counsellors were so concerned about their callers' welfare that they alerted the emergency services.

Childline's annual report reveals that calls from young people reporting suicidal thoughts have more than doubled in five years. It found that a turbulent home life, abuse, school pressures and mental health problems were all major triggers for suicidal thoughts.

The NSPCC said there was a 'chronic shortage' of professional help across the UK for children suffering with mental health problems and many children are being forced to wait until they reach crisis point. Childline is often a safe place to turn to in these situations.

Elaine Chalmers, Childline in Scotland's service head, said:

"We have to understand why so many children are reaching such a desperate emotional state that they feel they have no option but to end their lives. As a society, we cannot be content that a generation of children feel so worthless, alone and cut off from support. It is up to all of us to help them feel that life is worth living."

The Scottish Government set a target for the NHS in Scotland to deliver a maximum waiting time for CAMHS of 18 weeks from December 2014 - and this must be met 90% of the time. However, recent figures show that across the 14 health boards, just 77.6% of children and young people are being seen within this time period.

Health boards failing to achieve the 18 week waiting time target are NHS Borders (85.6%), NHS Fife (87.7%), NHS Forth Valley (28.0%), NHS Grampian (41.0%), NHS Lothian (57.4%), NHS Lanarkshire (88.9%) and NHS Shetland (22.7%).

The NSPCC's It's Time campaign is calling on governments to invest in services to ensure all abused children receive the right support to prevent them developing mental health conditions.