Charity: 600 Irish in UK at risk of suicide

An Irish suicide charity’s helpline in Britain last month received 600 calls from Irish immigrants who it deemed to be of “immediate risk” of taking their own lives.

Charity: 600 Irish in UK at risk of suicide

Of the further 1,600 calls that Console’s newly formed London centre received last month, 1,100 were from people deemed to be at “low or moderate risk” of suicide and 500 from family members still in Ireland who were concerned about the welfare of their loved one living in Britain.

Paul Kelly, who founded Console here 11 years ago, said the majority of those deemed to be of immediate risk of taking their own lives and who contacted the Westminster centre from across Britain, were young adults aged 18 to their early 30s, particularly young men.

Mr Kelly said a number of factors had lead to the people reaching such a low ebb. He said many had travelled to Britain full of hope for a future where they could secure work and build a new life.

However, he said many, particularly from rural backgrounds, had found themselves unprepared for numerous factors including a lack of work there and the high cost of accommodation. That had led some to suffer from mental health problems such as depression but they did not know where to turn for help.

“They said things like they felt disconnected, suffering from loneliness and isolation. That led some to enter into a state of despair. They felt they had let themselves and their families down,” he said.

Mr Kelly also made reference to the large number of calls which came from Ireland to the Westminster centre from family members of people living in Britain.

He said many were from mothers and girlfriends of people about their sons and boyfriends who were struggling but who had great difficulty in expressing what they were going through.

As is the case in Ireland, the people receiving the calls in the year-old Westminster centre are trained mental health professionals.

Mr Kelly said there was a good news story to come out of the Irish charity’s operation in Britain as, in only the last 12 months, it has even managed to attract the attention of the NHS which has sought its advice on training programmes for those dealing with suicide and bereavement.

Meanwhile, St Patrick’s Mental Health Support Service says it had 2,510 calls for support in 2013 — 29% more than in 2012. Email contacts rose 46% to 1,450.

Its figures for 2013 showed a significant rise in calls relating to depression: 572 in 2013 compared to 382 in 2012. It also said the number of female callers (1,846) almost tripled that of their male counterparts (664) in 2013.

Tom Maher, director of Clinical Services at St Patrick’s said: “It’s encouraging to see the substantial increase in mental health queries to the St Patrick’s Support Service during 2013. It’s a sign that we are getting better at talking about our mental health”

* St Patrick’s Mental Health Support Service: 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday with an answering and call-back facility outside hours. 01 249 3333, or email info@stpatsmail.com

* Console: 1800 201 890

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