Self-harm: cries for help soar by 90%

Six children hurt themselves every day
Six children hurt themselves every day
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The number of youngsters contacting ChildLine in Scotland about self-harming has 
increased by almost 90 per cent in a year.

Pleas for help from children who may be suicidal have also gone up by almost 40 per cent.

Volunteers at ChildLine’s two Scottish centres, in Glasgow and Aberdeen, counselled 2,174 children last year who said they were deliberately harming themselves. That is the equivalent of six a day and up from 
1,157 in 2010-11 – an increase of 87.9 per cent.

The number counselled over the phone or online about suicide went from 1,242 to 1,728 – a rise of 39.1 per cent

Elaine Chalmers, head of ChildLine in Scotland, said the number of children contacting them about self-harm and suicide was a “growing area of concern” for the service.

“It seems the pressures facing children and young people are increasing at such a rate that some of them see these drastic measures as the only answer to their problems. The reasons for self-harming 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.

“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.”

ChildLine’s annual report reveals that self-harming is now the fourth most common reason for children in the UK to contact the advice service provided by the charity NSPCC.

Across the UK, ChildLine provided 16,264 counselling 
sessions about self-harm, mainly to youngsters aged 13-16.

The number of counselling sessions concerning suicide has increased to 12,260, mostly involving children aged 15-17. ChildLine said the number of teenagers seeking counselling about suicide has been rising since 2007, with almost 1,000 cases in the UK, mainly involving girls, referred to the emergency services last year because advisers were so concerned.

One girl, aged 14, told ChildLine of her troubled relationship with her alcoholic mother: “Mum just yelled at me. I hate it. I know she can’t control her anger, but I just want to die.”

A nine-year-old related sexual abuse at the hands of her father: “He comes into my room every night when mum is at work. What he does to me hurts. My dad says all dads do it.”

Last year ChildLine provided 325,000 counselling sessions for children in the UK, 18 per cent more than in the previous year, about problems such as sexual and physical abuse, bullying and other family problems.

Difficulties with family relationships was the most common reason for contacting ChildLine, followed by bullying, physical abuse, self-harm and sex abuse.

ChildLine can be contacted via 0800 1111 or