A national charity is marking a milestone in its history with the stark warning: “Society is killing our children.”

Young people face unprecedented pressures as they struggle to make their way in life, according to PAPYRUS Prevention of Young Suicide.

The charity says new research with 11 to 19-year-olds shows the relentless demands of social media, school and exam stress and the pressure to meet the expectations of family and friends is causing many to struggle.

PAPYRUS, which was founded 25 years ago, has announced it will extend its confidential HOPELINEUK service to 24 hours to help cope with the crisis.

Chief Executive, Ged Flynn, said: “In the last year or so it has become increasingly obvious that society is putting undue pressure on our children and young people.

“Social media, a less than subtle glorification of exam success, long waiting lists for mental health care, a lack of privacy, a failure to resource our young people with life-skills, blatant commodification of young people by gaming and gambling companies all culminate in some young people giving up hope.”

PAPYRUS is concerned that suicides among teenagers have been on the increase for more than a decade and wants to understand some of the possible reasons why.

The charity commissioned research which asked children and young people a series of questions about what it is like to be a young person in 2022. The research concluded:

  • Society isn’t taking their mental health seriously enough
  • School and education are the biggest causes of stress and anxiety
  • The emphasis on academic success means they feel ill-prepared for life beyond the classroom
  • They want to learn more about mental health and wellbeing
  • Social media adds stress to their lives
  • All age groups had experienced either knowing someone who had had suicidal thoughts or had felt that way themselves.

During the pandemic PAPYRUS saw a 25 per cent increase in the number of calls, texts and emails to its confidential HOPELINEUK service. At least one in every three contacts was from a child under the age of 18.

The number of contacts received by HOPELINEUK in January and February of this year remained higher than in previous years.

Later this year the service will be extended to offer personal, professional help and support through the night.

“There is nothing better in our darkest hour to have a human conversation with a person who can help us navigate emotional distress and keep us suicide safe.

“Our professional advisors are a lifeline to parents, friends and young people themselves when suicidal thinking becomes a reality.

“PAPYRUS is trying its level best to create hope where many families are at the end of their tether, trying to support their children and young people.

“We want to help them find hope amid these multiple pressures, to find space to be children, to enjoy their formative years and to look forward confidently to a decent future,” added Ged Flynn.

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 pat@papyrus-uk.org