Childline reports worrying surge in calls from troubled youngsters

The number of young people seeking help from counselling charity ChildLine about self-harm has soared by more than two-thirds (68 per cent) in the last year, new figures reveal.

Counsellors have also handled a 39 per cent rise in contacts about suicide.

The dramatic increases mean there are nearly 80 counselling sessions every day about these issues, which are being driven by teenagers under increasing pressure.

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The most recent figures show that last year (2011/2012) ChildLine volunteers in London counselled a total of 3,644 children and young people who told counsellors they were self harming. This compares to 2,243 children counselled the previous year in 2010/2011.

ChildLine’s annual report shows that self-harm is now the fourth most common reason for children to make contact and the age of those seeking help is falling steadily.

ChildLine area manager Elaine Chalmers said: “Contacts about self-harm and suicide are a growing area of concern for us. 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. 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.

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“We can always offer support and help to a child who might think they are in the darkest of places, so they can begin to turn their lives around. No matter how bad things seem it can help to talk to someone who may be able to provide a crucial lifeline.”

If you have concerns about a child or young person, you can call the NSPCC on 0808 800 5000, text 88858 or visit

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