The number of suicidal children contacting ChildLine tripled from 2003-4 to 2007-8, the NSPCC, which runs the helpline, said today.
It said that in 2007-8, 2,925 children – 2,282 girls and 643 boys – contacted ChildLine specifically about feeling suicidal, up from 910 in 2003-4.
The NSPCC said one in 14 was in immediate danger or in need of urgent medical care.
History of abuse
Head of ChildLine Sue Minto said: “Children feel suicidal for complex and different reasons, but often say they have a history of abuse, neglect, family problems or mental health issues. Others have been driven to the brink by bullying, parents’ divorce, the death of some one close or exam stress.”
The charity called for parents to be given guidance on how to spot possible signs of suicidal thoughts in their children. Minto added: “Children can hide their distress so effectively that parents may have no idea their child is suicidal.”
Training for teachers and doctors
It also said teachers and doctors needed to be trained to identify suicide distress signs before children reach crisis point.
The NSPCC’s Child’s Voice Appeal is bidding to raise £50m over the next three years to ensure that ChildLine can answer every call. It is currently unable to answer one in every three calls.