Scotland

Rise in self-harm and suicide calls to ChildLine Scotland

  • 5 December 2012
  • From the section Scotland

The number of young people seeking help about self-harm from ChildLine Scotland has risen by almost 50% in a year, a report by the charity has said.

In 2011-12, ChildLine Scotland staff counselled 2,174 children and young people who said they were self-harming, compared to 1,157 the previous year.

The charity's volunteers also reported a 39% year-on-year rise in contacts about suicide, its annual report said.

ChildLine Scotland provided 53,527 counselling sessions in total.

Its boss, Elaine Chalmers, said there was growing concern over the figures.

"It seems the pressures facing children and young people - particularly girls - are increasing at such a rate that some of them see these drastic measures as the only answer to their problems," she said.

"We know boys are also suffering, but they are less likely to seek help and we urge them to do so.

"The reasons for self-harming can be very personal. They can be linked to problems at home, at school or because children are, or have been, abused.

"Often young people don't know why they do it and talking through their problems can help them identify what is upsetting them."

'Pendulum has swung'

The report - Saying the Unsayable - revealed that a total of 1,728 children and young people who were feeling suicidal contacted ChildLine Scotland in 2011-12, while the figure the year before was 1,242.

Last year, ChildLine provided over 325,000 counselling sessions in total across the UK, an 18% increase on the previous year.

The charity said the number of people seeking help about suicidal thoughts has been increasing since 2007, and self-harm is now the fourth most common reason for contact with ChildLine.

Its UK director, Peter Liver, said when ChildLine first started in 1986, sexual abuse was the major issue but that the "pendulum has now swung towards family problems, self-harm, and suicide".

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