Denmark: BørneTelefonen, risk of suicide growing among children and teenagers

In Denmark, the risk of suicide is growing among children and teenagers. This has been reported by BørneTelefonen, the helpline for Danish children and young people that published a few figures about calls received in 2015: calls for help have been 5,000 more than in 2014, totalling 43,000 calls. 1,107 children have shown suicidal thoughts, twice those of 2011. In 2013, “sales of painkillers to people under age was restricted”, explains Miriam Canu, a social operator working in Copenhagen, “just because of the high number of suicide attempts among young girls through overdoses of drugs. Why that? Danish schools teach “children to be independent of their families and to get used to making their own choices and living as independently as they can”. Add to this that “often both parents work”, or that “most marriages are short lived”, so “many children live without permanent contact with their natural parents”, Canu explains: “At a very early age, their peers become much more important than their family ties”. Socialisation shows, however, its dark side in a relentless spreading of bullying, as proven by the 3,700 calls for help that BørneTelefonen received last year. Society proves to be careful about that, Canu says, and initiatives have been taken to fight such phenomenon, “partly with the involvement of celebrities”.

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