Youngsters As Young As 6, Join Deluge Of Helpline Calls

Children as young as six are calling Swansea’s Childline helpline desperate for support.Hundreds of youngsters are calling the city’s teams of counsellors each year.

They are looking for an understanding ear, and help with a range of mental health problems.

Some have thought about taking their own lives, with others actually trying to kill themselves while talking to the charity’s counsellors.

Childline Cymru has revealed how one of its team helped save a young girl who had taken an overdose.

Her parents were downstairs, unaware that their daughter was about to die. Luckily, the counsellor called the emergency services and the girl was saved.

But the new figures released by the charity show a worrying number of children with serious problems. Calls included children suffering from depression, eating disorders, family troubles, bullying, living with someone with mental illness, as well as physical and sexual abuse.

Jonathan Green, from ChildLine Cymru’s Swansea call centre, said: “When young people talk about suicide they are obviously in deep despair. They are at crisis point with no one else to turn to, which is why they call us.”

The figures show that Swansea’s call centre handled 433 calls in the past year dealing with a variety of mental health problems. The Swansea and Rhyl call centres fielded 193 calls about suicide, with four out of five calls coming from girls. The charity has revealed some of the desperate children’s calls.

Rosie, aged 14, told a counsellor: “Mum has been on anti-depressants for years. The doctor wants her to keep taking them but she’s stopped.

“It’s really scary. I feel like I’m raising myself – it has made me lonely and depressed.”

Another child, Craig, aged 15, said: “I’ve taken some tablets and drunk a bottle of vodka.

“There’s no point. No one cares about me. My mum didn’t even notice that I’ve self harmed. I have nothing to feel good about anymore.”

Mr Green said that more needs to be done to help youngsters dealing with serious issues by themselves.

He said: “We are able to give immediate advice 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 Assembly to give this issue urgent attention.”