Childline carried out almost 350 telephone suicide counselling sessions last year with children from Northern Ireland.
Figures released by the NSPCC helpline show that across the UK it carried out an average of 53 suicide counselling sessions a day last year, as they dealt with record levels of children talking about the problem.
The NSPCC round-the-clock service dealt with 19,481 contacts from young people across the UK who were plagued with thoughts of ending their own lives – more than double the number five years ago. A total of 349 of these contacts came from children living in Northern Ireland – almost one each day.
Turbulent home life, abuse, school pressures, and mental health conditions were all major triggers for suicidal thoughts, with children as young as 10 telling us how desperate they were.
One 17-year-old girl, whose call was taken by the Belfast base, said: “I’ve been having difficulties coping at college. I’m finding the lessons a struggle. In the past, I’ve had to take some time off because I’ve been suffering with mental health problems. Sometimes I feel so stressed and useless; I just have to walk out. I sometimes feel like I want to die.”
The NSPCC’s ‘It’s Time’ campaign is calling for children and young people to feature as a priority group in the NI Department of Health’s updated Protect Life Suicide Prevention Strategy.
Mairead Monds, Childline service manager for Northern Ireland, said: “We need to understand that there are children and young people living in Northern Ireland that are experiencing significant mental health problems, self-esteem issues, isolation and feelings of worthlessness. These are children who have very little support and who very often feel that life is simply not worth living.”