The parents of a schoolboy have praised a text helpline established by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for saving their son when he contemplated taking his own life.
William and Kate heard how the 12-year-old contacted Shout 85258 – developed by the couple’s Royal Foundation – during his crisis and a volunteer supported him before the boy rang the police for help.
The couple and their son, who have not been identified, spoke with the Cambridges via a video call on Tuesday, and described how the schoolboy is now doing well and looking forward to returning to class.
The Cambridges praised the parents for talking about their experiences and the duke said it was vital and would “definitely save other people’s lives”.
The father told the duke and duchess: “We have no doubt that what happened between Shout when he was stood on that bridge was enough to save his life.
“And now it sounds so abstract and bizarre, slightly, but when we reflect on it, we know the conversation that Shout have had with our son was pivotal in him not doing anything that he would regret later. That is amazing.”
The Cambridges were told how after the first lockdown the schoolboy began to find things difficult and “started to talk around the phrase ‘I’m feeling anxious’”.
When Kate asked where his anxiety was coming from, his mother said her son was an “inquisitive” boy from a young age, “and since lockdown, he didn’t just worry about when we were getting back to school but also the future of the planet and really big things. I think that was overwhelming for him.”
The father said there was no trigger and they had enjoyed a lovely weekend as a family before their son texted Shout.
William replied: “It’s the shock, isn’t it, of the vulnerability of it all? It’s kind of suddenly come out of nowhere, really. As parents, we also try and manage everything we do as parents, and you think to yourself: ‘Where has this come from?’”
Kate added: “I can’t imagine, obviously as parents ourselves, what it’s been like for you and it’s every parent’s worst nightmare to receive the call that you did on that night.”
The police rang the family to tell them their 12-year-old son was safe, and the boy is now doing well.
Shout 85258 is a confidential 24/7 text service which connects people experiencing problems – from suicidal thoughts and relationship issues to bullying – with trained volunteers who can provide help.
To date, 2,400 trained Shout volunteers, supported by clinical supervisors, have helped to provide a critical lifeline for more than 265,000 texters across the UK, and the service has taken more than 630,000 conversations.
During the video call, the duchess asked the schoolboy if he thought there should be more awareness for young people around mental health.
He replied: “It’s a subject that’s ignored quite a lot in some schools – so, awareness in that sense, and making it so people can relate to you as well.”
William praised the family for speaking about their experiences: “And you guys doing this, talking about it like you are now will help and definitely save other people’s lives.
“It’s the right thing to do and it will make a huge difference with other families that who have been through or might go through, as difficult (a time) as you guys have had.”