September Song JP Cooper
7 March 2017, 07:05
A mother whose son took his own life at the age of 12 is backing a campaign encouraging boys to speak out about having suicidal feelings.
Data from Childline shows boys are six times less likely than girls to seek support if they are having thoughts about ending their lives.
National figures reveal the number of suicides among boys aged 10-19 is more than double that for girls.
The helpline has launched a new drive - entitled Tough to Talk - to encourage youngsters to speak out and assure them they do not have to suffer in silence.
Elizabeth Clements, 53, from Glasgow, lost her 12-year-old son Gary when he took his own life in September 1998.
She said: ''These figures really highlight how difficult boys find it to talk about their feelings. It's vital that boys feel they can talk to someone when they need support.
''Childline is such an important service for young people and this campaign will show that there is someone there - they don't have to go through it alone.
''When Gary died it was heart-breaking and devastating for the whole family. We will never know why he did it. It was a huge shock. He was loved very much.
''We really need to raise awareness of suicide to help other young people who need support.''
The NSPCC, the charity which runs Childline, said the helpline had 934 contacts from children concerned about suicidal feelings in Scotland in 2015/16.
Of those, 89 were from boys compared to 498 from girls. It was not known whether the remainder were from boys or girls.
Across the UK during that time, Childline delivered 1,934 counselling sessions with boys and 11,463 with girls.
Manchester United and England footballer Wayne Rooney has lent his support to the campaign.
NSPCC ambassador Rooney said: ''Growing up in the world of football, I know there can be a stigma attached to young men showing emotion and talking about their feelings.
''It can be seen as a weakness but the opposite is true, and it takes great strength to open up and reach out for help.
''Hopefully Childline's Tough to Talk campaign will help young people, and boys in particular, see that they are not alone and it's okay to speak out.
''They don't need to suffer in silence. I would encourage any young person struggling with suicidal thoughts to talk to someone they trust or contact Childline.''
Matt Forde, national head for NSPCC Scotland, said: ''For boys in particular it can be harder to ask for help due to reluctance to talk about their feelings, but this could be stopping boys from accessing support when they most need it.
''We hope that by putting the spotlight on male suicide we can help boys see that they are not alone.''
Children and young people can contact Childline for free, 24 hours a day on 0800 1111 or at www.childline.org.uk