It remains a sad fact that Northern Ireland consistently records the highest rate of suicide of all areas of the UK.
Every year, hundreds of people in our communities take their own lives with many more experiencing suicidal thoughts.
A number of these are children and for families a young person struggling with suicidal feelings can be one of the most challenging issues they will face.
Our Childline service is somewhere where young people frequently turn for help. In 2018/19, Childline delivered 461 counselling sessions to children from NI over suicidal feelings.
Our trained Childline counsellors encourage young people to talk about their feelings and problems and show them that there are people who can listen and help.
But much more can be done to help young people and ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day on 10 September, Childline in Northern Ireland has renewed its call for government departments to take urgent action to progress the proposed Protect Life 2 Suicide Prevention Strategy.
The NSPCC wants the strategy to be delivered urgently, with the correct level of investment and with a clear focus on children and young people.
Children struggling with suicidal feelings can often feel alone with nobody to talk to and nowhere to turn for help. For boys it can be especially hard to ask for help due to reluctance to talk about their feelings.
If we are serious about preventing suicide, then this issue has to move further up the political agenda in Northern Ireland.
Government departments have a responsibility to ensure that appropriate services are available for children to access when they need them most.
It is therefore unacceptable that the Protect Life 2 Suicide Prevention Strategy continues to be delayed.
Young people must know that help and support is available.
Childline is available on 0800 1111 or www.childline.org.uk. 24 hours a day, every day. Children don’t have to struggle with difficult feelings alone.
Mairead Monds, Childline Manager, NI