Suicide helpline sees spike in demand over Christmas

Console boss says the festive period can increase feelings of loneliness and isolation

 Console saw a 21 per cent increase in the number of calls to its suicide prevention helpline in December. File photograph: Getty Images/iThinkstock

Console saw a 21 per cent increase in the number of calls to its suicide prevention helpline in December. File photograph: Getty Images/iThinkstock

 

There was a 21 per cent increase in the number of calls to Console’s suicide prevention helpline in December, the charity has said.

The helpline, which offers advice and support to anyone contemplating or affected by suicide or self-harm, handles some 3,400 calls a month.

However, this figure rose to 4,116 during December, largely due to the level of demand over Christmas.

Console’s freephone number received 185 calls per day during 10 days around Christmas and New Year’s, an average of 20 a day more than the same period in 2014.

Commenting on the figures, Console chief executive Paul Kelly said the holidays can bring on feelings of loneliness and isolation, and may leave people feeling vulnerable.

“There was a notable increase in calls from New Year’s Day onwards from people in real despair and experiencing feelings of hopelessness, with many in suicidal crisis or in the process of taking their lives,” he said.

“Although a joyful time for many, Christmas can tend to magnify life’s pressures for people who may be vulnerable emotionally or psychologically.

“These pressures might be added financial worries, or perhaps it is the first Christmas since a significant event such as a death or a divorce.”

Text service

The organisation’s text service also saw a surge in demand, with a significant rise in the number of men texting HELP to the dedicated 51444 number.

“Some texters may be about to take their own lives, or at the stage of having it planned down to the fine details with a firm intent on following through with it,” said Mr Kelly.

“When people are experiencing this level of crisis, they sometimes find it easier to type than to talk.”

Console is a nationwide suicide prevention and bereavement charity, which offers counselling services from its centres in Dublin, Limerick, Cork and Galway, among other locations, along with a 24-hour helpline at 1800-247247.