Parents of exam students are being urged to reassure their children that they will be loved and valued irrespective of their results in the Junior or Leaving Certificate.
The appeal from Margaret Tierney, project development manager of Console Galway, the national suicide charity, comes as secondary school pupils face the end of the State examinations this week.
She says this has been a particularly stressful time for students, especially for those aiming for high points.
“They have been studying hard and many will feel under a lot of pressure. They are trying to live up to their own and their parents’ expectations. It is important that parents make them aware how much they are valued and that no matter how they do, they are loved. Keeping things in perspective is essential.”
She believes young people are under increasing pressure today from a number of sources, including the competitive points system, financial worries in the home, relationship problems, social media, and cyber bullying.
Console, which responds to the needs of people bereaved by suicide as well as those who are suicidal, reported a 15 per cent increase in demand for its service in the past year. Calls to the charity’s 24 hour national freefone helpline (1800-247-247 or text 51444 ) - which offers a telephone counselling service - have increased from 3,000 to 4,000 per month.
“More people are realising there is help out there for them and are willing to talk about how they feel,” says Ms Tierney. “Our helpline is a lifeline service, providing immediate intervention from highly trained counsellors and clinicians who will refer callers to the services they need. This is a lot different from providing a traditional listening service. Many people contacting the helpline are men who feel hopeless as they may be no longer in a position to support their family maybe through redundancy, relationship break-ups, bullying, or because they suffer from depression.”
The charity, which is based at Elm Park in Renmore and relies mainly on fundraising to finance its service, is hoping to move to a bigger premises. It is seeking an eight-to-nine room house which is located on a bus route which will ensure it is accessible to all. It plans to open a special room for children and an adolescents’ room in memory of the inspirational Kerry teenager Donal Walsh who campaigned against suicide and died in May 2013 after a long battle with cancer. Ms Tierney eventually hopes to open a drop-in counselling facility called Comfort Home, where people who are feeling down can call in and talk to someone.
The service plans to roll out a new three hour training programme in local schools and clubs to enable people to identify those who may be at risk of suicide. The initiative is called QPR - question, persuade, and refer - and 48 people have already been trained.
To contact Console freephone 1800 247 247. Many resources and useful information can be found at www.console.ie