Childline contacted every 30 minutes about suicidal thoughts

Suicide among many issues in 2015/16 Childline annual report 'It Turned Out Someone Did Care'

Girl using phone at night

Childline carried out an average of 53 counselling sessions a day about suicidal thoughts last year as they dealt with record levels of young people talking about how desperate they felt.

19,481 contacts were made by young people who were struggling with thoughts of ending their own lives - more than double the number 5 years ago.

Children as young as 10 told Childline how hopeless they felt, it's revealed in the 2015/16 Childline annual review, It Turned Out Someone Did Care.


"I’ve got exams coming up which is causing arguments with my family. I don’t know if I can cope much longer so I've been thinking about suicide and have planned how to do it."
15-year-old girl

  • turbulent home life
  • abuse
  • school pressures
  • mental health conditions.

Rise in young people struggling to access help

There was a significant increase in the number of young people who spoke about their mental health and wellbeing, with 1 in 3 counselling sessions concentrating on the issue. It is well documented that abuse can trigger serious mental health issues.

Many were singlehandedly dealing with problems as counsellors saw an 87% increase in young people struggling to access professional help predominantly for mental health services, blaming lengthy waiting lists, lack of information and refusal of help.

The chronic shortage of support is forcing many children to wait until they reach crisis point when they feel the only place they can turn to is Childline.

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Girls were 6 times more likely to be counselled by Childline about suicidal thoughts and feelings than boys.

Explanation: There were a total of 19,481 Childline counselling sessions about suicidal thoughts and feelings. Of the 13,397 counselling sessions where gender was known, 11,463 were with girls and 1,934 were with boys, making girls nearly 6 times more likely to be counselled by Childline about suicidal feelings than girls.

1 in 3 Childline counselling sessions about suicidal feelings took place at night.

Explanation: There were a total of 19,481 Childline counselling sessions about suicidal thoughts and feelings. 35% of counselling about suicidal feelings (6,881 counselling sessions)  took place between 8pm and midnight.

Most Childline counselling about suicidal thoughts and feelings were with 12-15 year olds

Explanation: There were a total of 19,481 Childline counselling sessions about suicidal thoughts and feelings. Of the 12,811 counselling sessions where age was known, 54% (6,973) were with 12-15 year olds, 43% (5,489) were with 16-18 year olds and 3% (349) were with children aged 11 and under.

"Childline gives children the chance to speak out"
Aaron Hearne / NSPCC Supporter

"It is deeply disturbing that in the past year nearly 20,000 children and young people contacted Childline because many of them wanted to take their own lives. I would urge any young person who feels this way to contact us."
Dame Esther Rantzen / President of Childline

Peter Wanless, NSPCC Chief Executive

NSPCC Chief Executive, Peter Wanless, said:
"We have to understand why so many children are reaching such 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."

Childline annual review 2015-16: It turned out someone did care

The issues children and young people contacted Childline about in 2015/16.
Read the review

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