02/27/07 -- Anne Thomas - Leading charity
NSPCC reported that an increasing amount of young girls are ringing Northern
Ireland children's helpline worried about suicide.
"Some rang the 24-hour helpline while attempting to take their own lives," Paddy Shannon,
ChildLine Northern Ireland, said.
"Others said they had already tried to kill themselves and were thinking of trying again."
The NSPCC has called for urgent action to bolster Child and Adolescent Mental Health
Services in Northern Ireland, the BBC reports.
The charity, which runs ChildLine, said such services needed to be properly resourced.
The 550 young callers - some as young as eight years old - who were worried about
depression, suicide and other mental health problems would have filled 23 classrooms, Mr
Shannon, director of ChildLine, said.
"We are able to give immediate support to these young people, who are going through a
terrifying experience, but it is clear that those who call us with serious problems may need
more intensive therapeutic support over a sustained period.
"At the moment, there are simply not enough therapeutic services for children with these
problems and we are urging the government to give this issue urgent attention."
Of calls to the Northern Ireland base about suicide, nearly three quarters came from girls.
However, despite the higher number of calls from girls, statistics show that suicide among
young men is double that of females, highlighting the need for resources targeted at males
in particular, the charity said.
Belfast man Gerard McCartan whose son Danny took his life, said much more needed to
be done to help young people.
"There's an epidemic of it out there," Mr McCartan said.
"Kids are crying out and there's nowhere for them to go at all.
"Parents are waiting on terrible waiting lists six, seven or eight months. Kids are dying -
kids are dying and there's nothing being done."