More resources needed for suicidal young people – ChildLine Cymru report

Mental health services for children and young people are inadequate and need immediate investment, according to a report by ChildLine Cymru.

Figures released by the NSPCC-run counselling service show that its staff received nearly 200 calls last year from youngsters contemplating suicide, with 80% of those calls coming from girls.

Jonathan Green, service manager for ChildLine Cymru, said the resources to help children in Wales with mental health problems were not always there.

“When young people talk about suicide, they are obviously in deep despair,” said Mr Green.

“They are at crisis point with no-one else to turn to, which is why they call us.

“At the moment there are simply not enough therapeutic services for children with these problems.

“We at ChildLine Cymru are calling on the Welsh Assembly Government to give this issue urgent attention.”

A spokesman for the Assembly Government said an extra £1.4m had been earmarked for child mental health services for 2005-06, in addition to the annual £1.2m budget.

“The Assembly is concerned about suicide rates among young people in Wales and is taking action across a range of areas to ensure young people have access to the services they need,” he said.

“In 2007 the Welsh Assembly Government has taken regulations through the Assembly to improve services provided to looked-after children.

“These services are aimed at supporting some of the most vulnerable young people in Wales.”

The Assembly Government will shortly be consulting on a national strategy for counselling in schools, the aim being to ensure provision of counselling services to all Welsh pupils.

Despite the higher number of calls from suicidal girls, official statistics show that suicide rates among 15-21 year-olds were about three times higher for males than for females.