The Prince of Wales spoke of his shock during a visit to Northern Ireland after hearing that a child as young as four had contemplated taking her own life.
The Prince and Princess of Wales William and Kate were told of the growing number of young people receiving support from suicide and self-harm prevention counsellors as they visited a charity in Belfast on Thursday.
PIPS, which was founded in 2003, offers help to young and old dealing with mental health issues across Northern Ireland.
The prince and princess were told that the youngest person it has helped deal with suicidal thoughts was a four-year-old girl while the oldest was a 92-year-old man.
William expressed surprise when he heard that someone so young had thought about ending their life.
“To have that awareness at four-years-old to do that is really quite shocking,” he said.
The princess hailed the work of the charity as inspirational as she talked to volunteer counsellors.
“You’re very inspiring,” she said.
During their visit, William and Kate took part in an art therapy session, painting pumpkins, with some children who have been supported by PIPS.
They also joined a group of volunteer counsellors in packing up the charity’s Little Boxes Of Hope. The support packages are given to children following their time with PIPS to assist their ongoing recovery.
Executive director of the charity Renee Quinn said the visit meant so much to the charity.
“Today was a fabulous visit, we are absolutely honoured and delighted that the Prince and Princess of Wales were able to visit our charity, we’re very humbled to have them visit our charity,” she said.
Renee Quinn said the prince and princess had been concerned to hear at the growing need for support services for younger people.
“That was very alarming to them,” she said.
“Unfortunately, it’s a trend that we have seen, particularly throughout Covid. We always did deal with children clients, but unfortunately we are seeing a lot younger coming through our doors, so much so that we have now got a child and youth counsellor service specifically to deal with the children.
“So, they were fascinated to learn about that service.” — PA
If you have been affected by issues in this article, you can get support:
- Samaritans, visit www.samaritans.ie or Freephone 116 123, anytime day or night
- Text message: Text50808, text HELLO to 50808, anytime day or night
- MyMind: visit www.mymind.org for online counselling options
- Pieta, visit www.pieta.ie or Freephone 1800 247 247, anytime day or night
- HSE YourMentalHealth Information Line is also available, anytime day or night, for information on mental health, and what other services and supports are available near you – Freephone 1800 111 888 or visit www.yourmentalhealth.ie.
- For emergencies call 999 or 112