“Serious” exam stress has led to a surge in young people calling a suicide prevention helpline, charity bosses have said.
Children as young as 12 have contacted the Papyrus HopeLine in recent months amid worries about their futures and letting their parents and teachers down.
Heather Dickinson, manager of the charity, told the Press Association that calls have gone up around 30% this year.
“We’re getting more calls from younger children and parents of younger children as well, so we’re not just talking about GCSEs and A-levels, we’re also talking about younger children,” she said.
Teenagers and young people on social media also increasingly experience a fear of being left out, Dickinson said, with those in school and at university comparing themselves to other people’s success, worrying about jobs and “getting on in the world”.
Young Facebook users see others who seem to be coping or not worried about exams, which can trigger concerns about being left out of chats, being bullied and experiencing low confidence, she added.
Exam stress is often the “last straw”.
The charity called on the government to acknowledge that suicide “needs to be talked about” to spread awareness.
Ged Flynn, Papyrus chief executive, added: “It is critical that the incoming government recognises that this is a very serious issue, and honours the recent pledge made by the Prime Minister to increase support to mental services for young people. It is vital to the future of our country.”
Despite the increased worry, Dickinson said young people are now more self-aware and more likely to seek help.
She hailed wider conversations around mental health in recent times as “positive” in encouraging more young people to come forward and break the taboo surrounding suicide.
In recent weeks, high-profile campaigners such as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry have spoken out about their mental health experiences through the Heads Together campaign.
Suicide is the leading cause of death among men and women under 35 in the UK, with a reported four and a half deaths a day in 2015.
Useful websites and helplines:
The Papyrus HopeLine UK can be reached on 0800 068 4141 or by text on 07786 209697.
Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
Mind, open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393.
Get Connected is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41.
Maytree is a sanctuary for the suicidal in north London in a non-medical setting. For help or to enquire about a stay, call 020 7263 7070.