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Cries for help to Teen-Line increase 54pc

TEEN-LINE Ireland had a 54pc increase in calls throughout the year as more young people struggled with mental health issues.

The service is hoping to increase its helpline capacity this year, after a massive surge in demand saw the figure of 8,300 calls in 2012 rise to 12,785 calls during 2013.

Of the teens who made contact with the helpline, 107 had suicidal feelings, 36 had made a suicide attempt and 47 of the calls related to self-harm.

The organisation also reported that the caller was crying or silent in 2,643 of the calls logged by the service.

The Teen-Line Ireland figures show that the average age of callers during the year increased slightly from 16.6 years to 17.

The charity said that in 2013, there were more new callers accessing the service than previous years, and this was a positive development as teenagers are "reaching out for support and someone to listen to them".

Its founder Maureen Bolger (55) said that it wants to expand the services that are currently available.

"We are always looking to improve the service we offer, so next year, we hope to increase the helpline capacity by 25pc and extend the opening hours," she told the Herald.

BUSY

"Our helpline is staffed by volunteers so to achieve this we need more volunteers.

"We're asking people who would like to get involved to contact us on volunteer@teenline.ie."

The body said that people call the helpline with a myriad of issues – "everything from problems with friends in school to quite complex family issues".

Meanwhile, the helpline reported being particularly busy over the Christmas season and received a large number of calls from teens who are regulars.

The charity started out with a handful of volunteers, but over the years the numbers giving up their time to help teens has increased.

Its volunteer base has increased to around 60 people, meaning it has more lines available each night to cater for the rise in demand for the service.

It said that the increase in the number of calls to the helpline shows that there is a greater awareness of the service

Teen-Line Ireland is a free-phone service which is open every day of the week from 8pm to 11pm.

It is also open early on Wednesday from 4pm to 11pm. All calls to the service are confidential.

The helpline is there to answer calls from teenagers from the ages of 13 to 19, however it does not refuse any calls it receives.

fdillon@herald.ie


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