Charity to aid suicidal students

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The Independent Online
Teenagers who feel suicidal because they have failed their A-Level or GCSE exams will be targeted in a new campaign to be launched by the Samaritans this week, writes Fran Abrams.

The charity is planning to place advertisements in newspapers and on radio stations popular with the age group to coincide with the release of A-level results next week and of GCSE results the week after.

The move has been prompted by a steady rise in teenage suicides in the past 10 years. In 1992, 591 young people aged between 15 and 24 took their own lives - an increase of one-third on the figure for 1982.

Every year, one or two suicides are attributed to exam failure. Last year Charlotte Thompson, of Northrepps, north Norfolk, killed herself after hearing that, instead of the three Cs she needed at A-Level to take a course in physiotherapy, she had gained a B, a C and two Ds. Her inquest heard that the college she wanted to go to would probably have let her in anyway.

Radio adverts, which will be played on commercial pop music stations, will feature a suicide note written by a 12- year-old boy who had failed an English test. It reads: "Dear Dad, don't feel sorry or sad. I lied and lied. I got an F in English. I carry on in school up in heaven, much love. PS: I will always protect you and mum. I wonder if they have a football team up there. Happy Easter."

After writing the note, the boy drew a picture of a rabbit on it and then shot himself with his father's gun.

Simon Armson, chief executive of the Samaritans, said: "We want all young people to know that the Samaritans is always there for them.

"There may be certain times, such as when exam results arrive, when there are overwhelming pressures. It is vital to talk to someone."