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Discussing emotions with kids could help prevent suicide, charity says
A Christian mental health charity is urging parents to discuss emotions with children following new figures that reveal a record number of children are seeking help from Childline over suicidal thoughts.
Rachel Newham, Founding director of Think Twice told Premier that while she isn't surprised by the spike in numbers, hearing about children as young as 10 thinking about taking their own life is "always shocking".
The NSPCC's phone service revealed in 2016/17, a total of 22,456 sessions were given to children in the UK who were suicidal - up from 19,481 the year before.
Newham told Premier that parents have a part to play in supporting young people struggling to cope.
Speaking during News Hour she said: "Really listen to what your child is saying, whether they're talking about the reason they feel so down and it might be hard to listen to but I think it's really important that we keep listening to our young people.
"For parents, discovering that your child is thinking of suicide can be hellish. So finding someone that you can talk to and get your feelings out is really important."
The figure was released ahead of the publication of the NSPCC's annual review of Childline.
Volunteers held 2,061 counselling sessions - a 9 per cent increase - with actively suicidal young people from across the UK, who had taken initial steps to take their own lives, such as writing a note, giving away meaningful items or planning their death.
The review found that suicide is the third most common reason for girls to contact Childline and the fifth most common for boys.
Childline has reported that it only has the resources to assist three out of every four young people who ask for help and has called for more volunteers to come forward.
Newham said that churches should also be amongst those trying help children contemplating suicide.
She explained: "Part of it actually is just being more open about mental health in our churches.
"Whether it be talking about the feelings someone is experiencing in a biblical passage or just praying about mental health conditions in our intercessory prayers so that it's generally more open."
Childline founder and president Esther Rantzen has called for more volunteers.
She said: "I would urge members of the public to consider becoming a Childline volunteer.
"Anyone who can lend a few hours to this vital service could end up saving a child's life."
Listen to Rachel Newham speaking with Premier's Eno Adeogun:
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