Figures show that last year, 208 children were referred to specialist clinics, up from 139 in the previous year. [Photo for illustrative purposes only.] (bies/

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The number of children wanting a sex change in 2012 saw an increase of 50 percent compared to the previous year, according to The Times newspaper in Britain.

This comes as the Royal College of Psychiatrists has urged services to work better so children can have the operation quickly when they turn 18.

It came in guidelines for treating adults who are seeking a sex change.

Figures reported in The Times show that last year, 208 children were referred to specialist clinics, up from 139 in the previous year.

But research shows that a high number of people who undergo sex change surgery go on to commit suicide.

Professor Chris Hyde, a medical professor from the University of Exeter, says that though his findings were from a decade ago, it is “likely” the same issues remain today.

“While no doubt great care is taken to ensure that appropriate patients undergo gender reassignment," he says, "there’s still a large number of people who have the surgery but remain traumatized—often to the point of committing suicide.”

Some suggest the transsexual suicide rate is as high as 31 percent.

And it was reported last year that Britain’s youngest sex-swap patient decided to revert back to living as a man, having taken hormone injections to make him look like a woman.

The 18-year-old was scheduled to go through with a sex change at the beginning of this year.

Professor Kevan Wylie, who led the development of the new guidelines, says there has been a “seismic shift in attitudes” toward sex change therapy.

“Among adolescents, there are an increasing number of referrals because the Internet and social media mean people are aware of and understand their symptoms and are then looking for help,” he says.

Wylie also says most clinics are increasingly seeing young people and that the issue is “more prevalent than people perceive it to be.”

Wylie says there is “quite a lot of evidence that people do well if they transition early because they can get on with their life."

Earlier this month, press in Belgium reported on a woman who ended her life after her sex change did not meet expectations.

Nancy Verhelst, known as Nathan, was euthanized under the grounds of “unbearable psychological suffering.”

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