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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 March 2006, 06:03 GMT
1,000 children 'consider suicide'
Sad child
Around 4,500 children ring the helpline each day
The number of children contemplating suicide has increased by 14% over the past year, a national charity has said.

Childline said more than 1,000 children who rang its helpline felt suicidal over problems such as abuse, bullying, stress and low self-esteem.

The charity is calling on the government to carry out a study on child suicide to help improve services.

TV psychologist Dr Tanya Byron said it was "vital" young people knew they did not have to suffer in silence.

Childline is asking the Department of Health, the Scottish Executive and the Welsh Assembly to conduct an in-depth study of suicide among young people in an effort to ensure those on the brink receive the help they need.

It is also calling for every school to have a senior staff member responsible for ensuring the mental health and wellbeing needs of the students are met.

It said on-site counselling and support services should also be available.

'Crisis point'

Dr Byron said children rarely thought about suicide "out of the blue".

"Often children will talk about multiple problems - which can include physical or sexual abuse, neglect, stress and low self-esteem - which have led them to this absolute crisis point," she said.

Childline said 1,034 children and young people called their helpline between 1 April 2004 and 31 March 2005 - primarily about feeling suicidal.

In 2003/04 the number was 910.

In the past year a further 1,698 children mentioned suicide in relation to other problems.

Esther Rantzen, Childline president, said suicide among young people was the "cruellest" death of all because it was preventable.

But she said almost half of the 4,500 children who rang Childine each day do not get through due to a lack of funds.

The charity has set a fundraising target of 20m to help more children.

Childline's free 24-hour helpline for children in danger or distress is 0800 1111.

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