'Harrowing' calls to suicide charity
A national suicide prevention charity has faced a spike in "harrowing" phonecalls linked to the housing crisis.
Console CEO and founder Paul Kelly says it is now seeing the human cost of the housing crisis in a wave of callers to the charity's helpline and counselling service, which simply cannot cope.
"We are receiving what I can only describe as harrowing calls from distraught people who have lost their homes, are living in hotels," he said.
"Our free, 24-hour helpline receives around 3,400 calls a month, but over the past six months we have noticed an ever-increasing upward trend in the amount of people calling due to the housing crisis.
"Many callers are currently in suicidal crisis. Unfortunately, in many cases we are now dealing with the aftermath, and providing bereavement counselling in our centres nationwide to families after a person has taken their own life."
He said that the national suicide prevention and bereavement charity had noted increasing amounts of people who were facing repossession, who were "at high risk of taking their own lives".
The charity now has full-time counselling centres in Dublin, Limerick, Cork, Wexford, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Mayo and London.
Mr Kelly said: "Callers in this area tend to be those who have lost their homes, those in high mortgage arrears, those facing foreclosure and those struggling to deal with high rents that they cannot afford.
"We are dealing with calls from people from all walks of life, who have been unexpectedly thrown into a financial black hole that they can't find a way out of.
"People tell us they can't sleep at night, they are having panic attacks and don't want to wake up in the morning for fear of the dreaded letter coming in through the post.
"Families are spiralling into depression - even people who were once very strong and very successful."
He said that the next government must be made acutely aware of the mental impact the housing crisis was having.
Console can be reached any time on freephone 1800 247 247; visit www.console.ie