Childline urges boys to speak out about suicidal feelings

Our Tough To Talk campaign encourages boys to seek help for the issues and problems they're facing

Boy with headphones

Boys are 6 times less likely than girls to talk to Childline counsellors about suicidal thoughts.

Our new Tough To Talk campaign urges boys to speak out about their problems and reassures them they're not alone.

Recent figures show:

  • 1,934 Childline counselling sessions were delivered with boys in 2015/16 compared to 11,463 with girls1
  • the suicide rate for boys aged 10-19 was more than double that for girls in 20152.

Watch: Things guys don't talk about

Our campaign film focuses on suicidal feelings and how young people can get help and support.

Wayne Rooney backs our campaign

Wayne RooneyNSPCC Ambassador for Childhood Wayne Rooney said:
"Growing up in the world of football I know there can be a stigma attached to young men showing emotion and talking about their feelings. It can be seen as a weakness but the opposite is true and it takes great strength to open up and reach out for help.

"Hopefully Childline's Tough To Talk campaign will help young people, and boys in particular, see that they are not alone and it's ok to speak out. They don't need to suffer in silence. I would encourage any young person struggling with suicidal thoughts to talk to someone they trust or contact Childline."

"Sometimes I think killing myself is the only option left. I’ve tried everything. I’ve been to my GP and have had counselling too but nothing seems to work. I feel as if nobody understands me. I don’t know what to do anymore."
14-year-old boy who contacted Childline

Boys are speaking to Childline about a range of concerns

12-15 year olds were most likely to be counselled about suicide.

Boys who did get in touch with Childline talked about a wide range of issues. Alongside feeling suicidal, they were concerned about:

  • relationship worries
  • abuse
  • bullying
  • sexuality and gender identity
  • mental health issues.

Children don’t always tell a Childline counsellor if they’ve spoken to anyone else about their worries. 

But in counselling sessions where boys did mention if they’d told someone about their suicidal thoughts or feelings, 20% said it was the first time they’d spoken out.

What to do if you're worried about a child

If you're concerned about a child you can encourage them to contact Childline anonymously on 0800 1111 or direct them to the Childline website.

If you're an adult worried about a child you can contact the NSPCC helpline 0808 800 5000 for advice and support.

Dame Esther RantzenDame Esther Rantzen, President of Childline said:
"Many girls tell Childline they don't want to live any more, and to hear this from any child is heart-breaking. But we know that boys particularly struggle to talk about their despair because they regard it as a weakness to share their feelings.

"We want to encourage them to speak to us on the phone, or online because we also know that if they try to combat these suicidal thoughts alone, they can become overwhelmed by them, and that's when we can lose precious young lives.

"Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for boys and young men. We need to draw attention to this growing problem, and make sure all our desperate children know that Childline is there for them, day and night."


  1. In 2015/16 Childline carried out 19,481 counselling sessions about suicidal thoughts and feelings. In 2015/16 11,463 counselling sessions were held with girls and 1,934 with boys, a ratio of 6:1. Gender was unknown in 6,084 counselling sessions.

  2. Office for National Statistics (2016) Suicides in the UK: 2015 registrations: In 2015, the suicide rate for boys age 10-19 was higher than the rate for girls in the same age group at 4.4 - almost 2.5 times that of the girls rate at 1.8.