The ISPCC’s Childline Report shows it answered a total of 462,505 calls last year, of which 264,819 were deemed to be of ‘Level 3’ standard — long, two-way calls in which the young person was experiencing a serious difficulty.
Within those figures, approximately 1,000 calls involved mention of suicide, and 300 of those were acute, serious contacts in which a potential risk to the young person was identified.
Childline manager, Margie Roe, said the number of those crisis calls last year increased compared to the rate for the previous year, and that it made eight child protection reports to gardaí and three to the Child and Family Agency (Tusla) regarding children who were suicidal, based on identifying information that it then passed on.
ISPCC data shows that 44.5% of calls overall related to the callers’ personal lives, with 13.5% linked to abuse/welfare issues and 7.5% linked to mental health.
Another 6% of calls regarded peers and family relationships, while 17.5% were requests for information.
Ms Roe said of the crisis calls: “At a certain point they feel overwhelmed and not able to cope.”
She said some callers were capable of acting on impulse but in many cases might have called afterwards having realised what they had done was “a bad idea”.
“We know there are long waiting times for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and that is very worrying,” she said.
“If somebody is a very high risk they cannot be on a waiting list.”
Last year Childline’s call-answering rate increased to 71%, and it also had 17,780 online contacts as well as a newly established text service.
The organisation also managed to secure funding via the Department of Children and a public fundraising campaign to ensure Childline remained a 24-hour service, following earlier fears it may have had to close for some hours at night due to budgetary constraints.
Statistics from the Central Statistics Office show that the number of young peo- ple who have died by suicide in recent years has decreased.
The most recent data, for 2013, is still provisional but shows that 22 people aged 10 to 19 died by suicide, with two aged 10 to 14. All bar four of the total for 2013 were male.
Childline: call 1800 66 66 66, text 50101 or visit www.childline.ie
Samaritans: call 116123 or visit www.samaritans.org