herald

Friday 20 October 2017

Children as young as eight seeking help from suicide hotline

Teen phoneline
Teen phoneline

Children as young as eight-years-old are being helped by a suicide prevention charity for issues including cyber-bullying.

Peter Moroney set up Save Our Sons and Daughters (SOSAD) after his son Simon (16) died by suicide in his Drogheda home in 2003.

Now the charity has branches in five towns in the north east of the country and Peter says that in an average week it provides counselling to about 350 people.

And he also revealed that the youngest client is just eight years old. He said children and teenagers make up 11pc of it's clients and they need specialist child therapists.

"Our youngest client at the moment is eight-years-old," Peter said. "Of the age group from age 10 up, nearly every single one of them seems to be as a result of bullying."

He believes social networking sites are an issue because it means bullying, "never stops".

"You can never get away from it; turn on the phone and you are being bullied, turn on the computer and you are being bullied," Peter said.

Separately, he said there are signs that the stigma attached to men seeking help is beginning to change.

"A total of 46pc of the people we saw last year were male and I think that has to do with the confidentiality, we are discrete," he said.

Peter and his family blamed themselves after Simon died in 2003. They set up SOSAD four years later offering information to people who did not know where to go to get help. However people kept calling to the Moroney home asking for help.

CHARITY

"We decided to concentrate on setting up a charity to respond fast to people and to confidentially help people and protect them from suicide and depression," Peter explained.

The Drogheda branch opened first and now the charity is also in Navan, Dundalk, Cavan, Carrickmacross and Tullamore.

All of the services are free and everyone is seen very quickly, sometimes within hours.

Yesterday the HSE's National Office for Suicide Prevention launched a new mental health campaign called 'Little Things' and sees it joining forces with over 20 partner organisations.

hnews@herald.ie

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