Number of suicide calls from children to Childline double in five years

Childline is handling soaring numbers of calls from children as young as 10 seeking help for suicidal thoughts, a new report has revealed.

The NSPCC service held 19,481 counselling sessions about suicide in 2015/16 - the equivalent to one every half an hour.

The number of calls from young people who have considered ending their own lives is more than double the level seen five years ago.

Triggers for suicidal thoughts include turbulent home lives, abuse, school pressures and mental health conditions, the helpline said.

Childline President Dame Esther Rantzen described the figures as "deeply disturbing".

She said: "I would urge any young person who feels this way to contact us. It really does make a difference to speak to someone who cares about you, and wants to listen."

Children tend to feel more desperate in the winter months, the helpline says. Credit: PA

Girls were six times more likely to contact Childline about suicidal thoughts and feelings than boys, while those most at risk were aged between 12 and 15.

Children tended to feel more desperate in the winter months, with a third calling at night. Counsellors had to alert emergency services on average six times a day about youngsters who were talking about suicide.

NSPCC chief executive Peter Wanless said:

Childline held 301,413 counselling sessions in 2015/16, compared with 286,812 in 2014/15, it was revealed as the service published its annual report.

There was an increase in the number of young people who spoke about their mental health, with almost a third of the sessions concentrating on the issue.

For help in dealing with suicide thoughts, head do: