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Suicide prevention charity Pieta House expects surge in calls and messages over Christmas period

The suicide prevention charity says that average calls to its helpline rose by 45% this year

Image: Shutterstock/noor_nobi94

PIETA HOUSE IS predicting a sharp increase in calls and texts to its helpline service over December and January as people struggle with pressures brought on by the Christmas period. 

The suicide prevention charity says that average calls to its helpline rose by 45% this year with an average of 257 calls and 589 texts received each week. 

Christmastime can be difficult for people suffering from bereavement, loneliness, mental health and financial difficulties, the charity said. 

These pressures can be elevated by social expectations and obligations around the Christmas period. 

“It’s important acknowledge how you feel physically, mentally or emotionally this Christmas and equally, do not be alone,” said Pieta House CEO Elaine Austin. 

It’s important to go gently and be kind to yourself, to not be frightened by your thoughts, to remind yourself that feelings pass and to reach out to others to get care and support. 

Austin said the demand for Pieta’s 24-hour free helpline is at its highest during December “because the reality is that Christmas can be a lonely and isolating time of year.”

The charity is calling on the public to keep a closer eye on friends and family this year. 

The signs of suicide to watch out for are:

  • Sleep – changes in sleep patterns, appetite and level of activity
  • Isolation – withdrawing from family and friends, isolating themselves, staying in their room, not answering phone calls and texts
  • Giving away possessions or purposefully putting personal affairs in order
  • No Interest - loss of interest in usual activities.  Not being interested in upcoming activities or gatherings
  • Speaking the language of suicide – it is all negative and hopeless

Said Austin: “The financial and social angst people experience to have the ‘perfect’ Christmas intensifies which is sometimes due to social media and the online community.

The intensity of the Christmas season can also amplify feelings of hopelessness and despair, she said, adding that the pressure of Christmas can be detrimental to people’s mental health. 

If you need to talk, contact:

  • Pieta House 1800 247 247 or email mary@pieta.ie

  • Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org

  • Aware 1800 80 48 48

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

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