Girl (6) wanted to harm herself due to bullying, charity claims
A SIX-year-old girl threatening self-harm was brought to Ireland's leading suicide support charity for help.
The child was part of an astonishing 42pc hike in emergency contacts recorded by Pieta House this year.
The alarming revelation came as Pieta House chief executive Joan Freeman outlined the scale of the challenge facing the organisation.
She revealed that over the past year they have worked with people ranging in age from the six-year-old girl to an 87-year-old man.
The young child who was suffering from thoughts of self-harm was brought by her desperate family to Pieta House for help and support.
The family were terrified the child would act on her thoughts. It is believed the case was linked to bullying.
The charity has experienced a flood of people desperately seeking help for problems that have driven them to the brink of suicide.
"The demand for our services has been overwhelming," said Ms Freeman. "But that is a good thing because it means people with suicidal or self-harm thoughts desperately want help and now realise there are places to go for that help."
The charity will open two new centres in Cork and Galway in the next fortnight, with a third new centre planned to open in Castleisland, Co Kerry, before Christmas, bringing to nine the number of Pieta House outlets nationwide.
In 2012, Pieta House assisted a total of 3,000 people via their appointment-based services.
The charity does not require either a doctor's letter or a psychiatrist's report for a support appointment.
The 42pc increase is attributed to the emotional and psychological pressure exerted on individuals and families by the financial crisis.
However, Ms Freeman said that a portion of the increase was attributable to the growing realisation amongst people with suicidal or self-harm thoughts that help for their problems was available.
The issue of suicide was also highlighted by Kerry teenager, Donal Walsh (16), who used his courageous battle against terminal cancer to appeal to youngsters not to take their own lives.
The bravery of the Tralee youngster was credited for a dramatic decline in Kerry's suicide and self-harm statistics this year.
Donal lost his battle for life in May but his family have continued his inspirational campaign against teen suicide.
The Irish Independent also ran a successful 'Stop Cyber Bullies' campaign which has been credited with helping highlight the dangers of abuse via unregulated social media websites.
Midleton-based suicide support group, Let's Get Together, estimate that almost 1,000 Irish people will have taken their own lives in 2013, some 40pc plus above official statistics.
The charity said that an average of three people every day now take their own lives in Ireland, the bulk of whom are in the 18-45 age group.