Nearly a third of callers to a helpline for teenagers have suicidal thoughts, are suffering abuse, or are self- harming, it has emerged.
Teenline Ireland received a record 23,000 calls and text messages during the first six months of this year, compared to approximately 16,000 over the same period last year, a 44% rise. Around 15% of calls are made by teenagers with suicidal thoughts, while 15% are from young people suffering abuse or self-harming.
Teenline’s clinical director Niamh Hannan said teenagers from all walks of life were experiencing high levels of anxiety and low mood or depression.
“The three main areas of a young person’s life are home, school, and friends; they can cope if only one area is going wrong at a time, but where they are experiencing difficulty in two or three areas at a time, they are more at risk,” she said.
The voluntary organisation — it has no paid staff and does not receive state funding — found that text messages to its helpline more than doubled. Around 12,000 text messages were received last year, but the number exceeded 14,000 during the first six months of this year. The messaging service, introduced in November 2014, exceeded all expectations, said Teenline chairman Declan Brennan.
“It is hugely positive to see so many young people taking the first step with Teenline to reach out and talk about their problems,” he said.
Teenline was established in 2006 by Dublin mother Maureen Bolger after her son Darren, 16, took his life three years previously. She wanted to provide a safe place for teenagers to talk.
Teenline communications officer Richard Delaney said it offered an outreach service to schools and youth groups.
“We want teenagers to know that we will listen to their problems, but will never tell them what to do,” said Mr Delaney.
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