Suicide prevention charity applauds courageous kids

Minister says early intervention is vital

Children are showing remarkable courage and resilience under lockdown, according to a national suicide prevention charity.

New figures for 2020 show many under 18s who were struggling with thoughts of suicide found the strength to contact the confidential helpline run by PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide.

The charity is also praising parents and loved ones who continue to contact its HOPELINEUK service to get potentially life-saving support for children they are concerned about.

Speaking during Children’s Mental Health Week, the Chief Executive of PAPYRUS, Ged Flynn, said: “It shows such wonderful resilience that children, who have been unable to talk to anyone, have been able to reach out and speak to us and share how bewildered and frightened they are.

“It is also wonderful that parents and families have been able to support children in ways they have never done before; seeing the need to intervene and seizing the opportunity to get them the professional support and advice they need.”

PAPYRUS believes many young suicides can be prevented. 

Every week the charity receives hundreds of calls, texts and emails. Last year 39.5% of those who contacted HOPELINEUK, and agreed to give their age, were under 18.

Of the “concerned others” who contacted PAPYRUS, 80.8% did so because they were fearful about a child’s welfare.

“We all know 2020 is without comparison. It was a year in which children and young people had to suddenly begin coping with new ways of living and studying, deal with unbelievable uncertainty, lose cherished contact with friends and miss out on almost everything they took for granted.

“Despite all that and more, as these unbelievably challenging times continue, our kids are coping and are to be applauded,” added Ged Flynn.

PAPYRUS is concerned that more vulnerable children are getting reduced access to quality health care because of the lockdown restrictions. They are finding services difficult to reach and support hard to find.

Nadine Dorries MP, Minister for Mental Health, Suicide Prevention and Patient Safety, said: “We know this is a particularly challenging time for children and young people, they’re adapting to new ways of learning and socialising and coping with the uncertainty that changing restrictions inevitably bring. It’s normal and understandable that many of them will be feeling low or anxious.

“These findings demonstrate how resilient our children are to uncertainty and change – it is really outstanding. We know early intervention and treatment is vital, which is why we’re training a new dedicated mental health workforce for schools and colleges across the country, as well as launching a campaign through the Every Mind Matters website to raise awareness of the guidance and tools available to support children and young people’s mental wellbeing.

“I want to reiterate – it’s imperative anyone who needs help reaches out for support – whether that’s friends or family, your GP or our Every Mind Matters online resources. We’re all here to help.”

Members of the Welsh Parliament say there has never been a more important time to support the most vulnerable. 

Eluned Morgan MS, Minister for Mental Health, Wellbeing and the Welsh Language, said: “Children and young people have shown remarkable resilience throughout these challenging times.

“We know that 70-80% of mental health issues start from a young age and it’s important they have access to services that can provide support at an early point. Services such as HOPELINEUK are crucial in supporting the mental health of young people concerned they are reaching a crisis point.

“We are determined to support those struggling with their mental health in every way we can, no matter their age. Just this week we announced an additional £9.4m of funding specifically aimed at children and young people, investing In Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services and the Whole Systems Approach, including counselling in schools.”

Lynne Neagle MS, who chairs the Welsh Parliament’s cross-party group on suicide prevention, said: “The collateral damage caused to our children by the closure of schools, clubs and other opportunities to socialise makes it even more important than ever that we all do what we can to support our children, young people and their families at this difficult time. I really welcome all the vital work PAPYRUS does to support young people.” 

Professor Siobhan O’Neill, interim Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland, said: “The pandemic has lasted longer than we expected and it is more important than ever that we continue to hold hope. I want to pay tribute to our young people, they have sacrificed so much but continue to show resilience as we work to keep everyone safe.

“The resources provided by PAPYRUS are invaluable for parents who are supporting children, and I thank them for everything that they do to support young people and save lives.”

The charity has produced a parents’ guide which offers practical and professional advice to help break the silence around self-harm and suicide and encourage parents to talk to their children.

“Parents should tell their child that help is available but they must not take it for granted that a young person can or will heed that advice. Parents need to offer extra layers of support and can really help a child by saying ‘come on, let’s get you the help you need right now’ and then reach out together,” said Ged Flynn.            

For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice please contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email [email protected]

Suicide is the biggest killer of young people in the UK. PAPYRUS aims to reduce the number of young people who take their own lives by breaking down the stigma around suicide and equipping people with the skills to recognise and respond to suicidal behaviour.

HOPELINEUK is the charity’s confidential helpline service providing practical advice and support to young people with thoughts of suicide and anyone concerned about a young person who may have thoughts of suicide.

HOPELINEUK is staffed by trained professionals, offering a telephone, text and email service.

For practical, confidential suicide prevention help and advice please contact PAPYRUS HOPELINEUK on 0800 068 4141, text 07860 039967 or email [email protected]