A suicide prevention charity has voiced concerns for youngsters who flop in their exams and are regarded as failures compared with straight A students.

The group believes the annual focus on increasing pass rates can heighten the sense of failure and inadequacy among those who have not done so well.

PAPYRUS, a national charity set up to prevent young suicides, called for schools and colleges to provide better support on results day.

It said those that simply pinned up results on a notice board without offering any back up or counselling service were potentially putting vulnerable students at risk.

Tony Cox, co-ordinator for the charity, said: "There is a lot of focus at the moment on students who get eight or nine As.

"Quite often everyone else is just seen as a failure. There should be more consideration for people who aren't getting the results that they may have expected."

Although the number who actually take their own life because of exam results is tiny, there were many more who consider suicide or even make a suicide attempt, it said.

Mr Cox said an easily accessible support network should be available throughout the exam period and particularly on results day at all schools and colleges.

"When I went to get my A-level results they were on a board," he said.

"There was no staff about. I had a look at them and went home. There was no discussion about what to do if I hadn't got the results I needed."

Mr Cox said parents often increased the pressure by expressing disappointment when their children failed to get the results they expected.

"If their child doesn't do well they may not be of the frame of mind to say 'there are things that we can do about it'.

"Often things aren't talked about. What we are saying is it is worthwhile to remember what it was like when you were a child getting your results."

Mr Cox added: "We are not saying every child who fails in an exam is going to be suicidal. But young people are very good at hiding their true feelings.

MPW - a private GCSE and A level centre in Edgbaston, Birmingham - claimed a strong support system available to students on results day was vital.

"We have a personal tutor system who are all on stand-by on the day," said the college's principal, Dominica Jewell.

"They can also come into school later with their parents."

* Anyone concerned about a vulnerable young person can contact the charity's HOPE-LineUK on 0870 170 4000 for advice.