Suicidal feeling on the rise in children

ChildLine has reported that the number of children calling them because they feel suicidal has increased by 14 per cent in the last year, raising concerns over the mental welfare of children.

More that 1,000 children who called ChildLine in the last year to talk about suicide compared to 910 in the previous year. A further 1,698 children mentioned suicide in relation to another problem.

Esther Rantzen, President of ChildLine, said: “All young death is agonising but suicide is among the cruellest of all – because it’s preventable. One child rang ChildLine from her science lesson; she had already taken an overdose. Another teenage couple had taken a suicide pact and rang having cut their wrists.

“For these children, ChildLine was literally a lifeline – those lives were saved. But just imagine if those children had not been able to get through to ChildLine?”

ChildLine has now called for schools to appoint a member of staff to be responsible for safe-guarding and promoting mental welfare to pupils while also ensuring their mental health needs are met.

Getting Help

Results from a survey carried out by Pulse on 1,300 GPs have suggested that children under 18 have particular trouble getting the help they need with mental health problems. Many children have to wait up to eight months for an assessment and treatment and up to ten months to see a child psychiatrist.

Dr Heather Potter, a GP in Neath, said: “There needs to be a willingness by Primary Care Organisations to recognise the huge workload held in primary care. In adolescents it’s a particular problem. It takes tremendous courage to seek help ¬¨then they get sat on a waiting list.”

The survey also shows that because of the wait four-fifths of GPs found it hard to implement NICE guidelines on talking therapies, with 58 per cent saying they were often forced to prescribe antidepressants.

Fewer Services

Meanwhile the Independent has claimed that children’s mental health could be being put at risk by the closure of children’s mental health units. In a recent report the Independent stated that children’s mental health was being put at risk as three of the UK’s 13 specialist children’s psychiatric in-patient services have closed since 2003, and a fourth, in Oxford, may be soon to follow. The paper gave the reason for these closures as “pressure on local NHS trust[s] to reverse a huge financial deficit”.

For more information on these stories, go to: the Independent and Pulse websites.

For more information on ChildLine, go to: the ChildLine website.