Suicidal kids, 5, calling helpline
CHILDREN as young as five are calling counselling services to talk about suicide.
The Sunday Mail can reveal Kids Helpline has had several contacts from very young children, as the overall rate of young people reaching out to discuss suicide soars.
In the six months from April to September, Kids Helpline received 3316 contacts from young people aged five to 25 directly relating to suicide. This was up from 2440 during the same period in 2016.
Youths in the 13-18 age group made up the largest number of contacts via telephone, online and email.
This year the service has received telephone contacts from two children aged five to discuss suicide. In one case, a Queensland child was ringing the service on her own to discuss her friend’s father’s suicide.
Two seven-year-olds – one from Tasmania and the other from Queensland – had also contacted the service. One said they wanted to “kill myself” over bullying at school. The other said they wanted to “end my life” because of bullying.
Louise Davis, clinical practice manager at Kids Helpline, said young people were under more pressure these days which was contributing to their suicidal thoughts.
The increased exposure to cost of living pressures, family breakdown, online bullying via social media, exposure to terrorism, domestic violence and substance abuse were playing key roles in the increase in suicide contacts to the service.
“Often we don’t think children as young as five might be thinking about killing themselves but we need to be more aware a child of any age might be experiencing suicidal thoughts,” Ms Davis said.
Child psychology service Quirky Kid has also had a massive increase in young people discussing suicide, with 15 per cent of all child contacts this year relating to suicidal thoughts, many from children under the age of 10.
Two years ago barely any contacts fitted this category.
Principal psychologist at Quirky Kid Kimberley O’Brien said if a child spoke about suicide it was important to address it head-on.
But she also cautioned against bringing up the notion with a child under the age of eight, even if there had been a suicide in the family. “I don’t think a parent should lie to the child but you can just say that person has passed away very suddenly and not mention suicide directly,” she said.
If you need someone to talk to or are concerned about your children call Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800 or contact Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636.