06:37 GMT +322 September 2018
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    'World's Happiest Country' Denmark Sees Rise in Pre-Teens Turning Suicidal

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    Danish children's rights activists are alarmed to find instances of children as young as ten having suicidal thoughts. This is all the more surprising given that Denmark has consistently ranked among the world's happiest nations.

    The number of children and teenagers ringing the so-called "Children's Telephone," a suicide prevention helpline, is constantly rising, Danish Radio reported.

    Between 2013 and 2017, the counseling service set up by the organization Children's Rights received over 10,000 calls from children and adolescents dealing with suicidal thoughts. Over the same period, help requests from children aged 10 to 12 have more than doubled.

    "Of course, it worries me that we are seeing an increasing number of youngsters, including children as young as ten, seriously contemplating suicide," Children's Rights director Rasmus Kjeldahl said. According to him, the fact that suicidal tendencies start this early gives "every reason for concern."

    According to Kjeldahl, underage applicants have most often been exposed to abuse, violence and humiliating treatment. However, he also noted that the children and adolescents who use the helpline relay that they are experiencing more loneliness and anxiety than ever before.

    "It may be something similar to stress, a feeling of social isolation in a world where everyone else seems to enjoy life and has a lot of friends," Kjeldahl ventured.

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    Anne Marie Råberg Christensen of the Children's and Youth Psychiatric Society pointed out that the increase may be due to young people becoming more apt at asking for help.

    Overall, Danish men are three times more likely to succeed in committing suicide than women. In 2016, the last year with full statistics available, 426 Danish men killed themselves, compared with 124 women, according to the Danish Health Data Authority.

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    These figures don't reflect the total number of attempts, as men tend to be more successful at taking their own lives, opting for methods that tend to be more efficient (such as hanging or shooting themselves). Women, on the other hand, are more inclined to slit their wrists or overdose on pills; this generally yields a higher chance of being discovered in time and saved. Older men are the population group most prone to suicide — attempts coincide with the loss of a partner, Svend Aage Madsen, a psychologist at the nation's leading hospital Rigshospitalet, told Danish Radio.

    "Many men only have their partner to talk to, and when they lose them they are left completely alone," Madsen reasoned, recommending developing closer relationships and urging workplaces to address this issue.

    Denmark has had the distinction of ranking first in the World Happiness Report for seven straight years.

    Tags:
    children, suicide, Scandinavia, Denmark
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