93% Increase in Under 18 Year Olds Seeking Help from suicide and self-harm centre Pieta House

Pieta House, the suicide and self-harm crisis centre have announced new figures that show a significant rise in people seeking their help in 2011. The biggest increase was in the under-18 age group which saw an increase of 93%. 70% of these were female. This age group also had the highest instance of self-harm.

“The increase in the under-18 category is particularly worrying. We are seeing people because of family breakdown – particularly when parents who can’t afford to separate and continue to live together, bullying – including cyber bullying and peer pressure. There is a gap in mental health services in the 16-18 year old age group and Pieta House is plugging this gap at the moment,” said Joan Freeman, CEO and Founder of Pieta House.

There was also an increase (86%) in the 26-44 age-group in 2011, who make up nearly one third of those accessing Pieta House’s services.

“The recession is having a direct impact on the 26-44 age-group. This age group reflects a high proportion of mortgage holders and the people we’re seeing are finding it difficult to deal with their financial circumstances. Whilst younger people can emigrate the older age group find themselves stuck because of their debts and other commitments,” said Joan Freeman. “We help them to overcome that acute period when they feel that they have no hope,” she said.

There has been a 40% increase in the number of statutory bodies such as the HSE, Mental Health Services and other agencies referring people to Pieta House. This has resulted in a waiting list for Pieta House’s services for the first time ever. Despite an additional 90 counselling hours per week there is still a waiting list.

“The rise in people seeking help from us can be attributed to a number of factors – an increased awareness of our services, the opening of two new centres in Limerick and Ballyfermot and extended opening hours in our other centres,” said Joan Freeman. “Although the gap between males and females seeking help is closing the figures show that suicide is not just a male problem. The women we see usually have attempted to take their own life previously; however women use less lethal methods than men, so they’re more likely to survive,” she said.

Pieta House’s annual fundraiser – Darkness into Light will take place on Friday night / Saturday morning, 12th May 2012 at 4am. Following a record turnout in Dublin, Limerick, Galway, Cork, Clare and Kerry last year the event will take place in 14 locations around the country. Counties Cavan, Waterford, Kildare, Laois, Roscommon, Tipperary, Mayo and Wicklow are lending their support this year. This walk is symbolic of the work of Pieta House that does – providing a service to those in crisis and helping them through their darkest time. Register at http://dil.pieta.ie/

“We’re calling on people from all over the country to bring two friends with them to walk, jog or run 5km to raise funds and increase awareness about suicide and self-harm,” said Joan.

The demand for Pieta House’s services continues to grow. Since opening their doors in 2006 over 6,000 people have sought help. There are now five centres between in Dublin and Limerick and the organisation is in active discussions to open centres in Galway, Cork, Waterford and Roscrea.

To register for Darkness into Light 2011, or to find more information on Pieta House, visit www.pieta.ie.

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