TeenLine crisis as calls reach record number
TEENAGERS are turning to a Dublin-based crisis helpline in greater numbers than ever before.
TeenLine, a helpline in Tallaght, received a record number of calls in June - just three months after its state funding was axed.
Though the service only opens for 25 hours a week, volunteers have answered almost 10,000 calls so far this year.
A total of 2,035 of these were in June, a time when manager of the service Judith McLoughlin said that calls should be falling slightly as teenagers settle into summer.
"We would have expected a drop around this time of the year but calls have just been increasing week on week," she told the Herald.
The rise in calls comes at a time when the helpline is already stretched. In the first six months of last year, the service answered 8,432 calls from distressed teens.
Ms McLoughlin said they are "overwhelmed" at the moment, but will keep going to provide the vital service.
She said abuse in the home and loneliness are the top two factors which drive teens to pick up the phone.
The abuse reported by those who call the helpline ranges from physical to emotional and often callers are very distressed.
Details are often hard to extract form the young callers so not all calls of abuse can be relayed to the appropriate authorities.
"Sometimes it can be a really simple case of teenagers being too afraid to talk to their friends or confide about an embarrassing issue and that's where we come in," added McLoughlin.
"The important thing is that they are calling," she said. "It's those that don't call and who feel they have nowhere to turn - they are the cause for concern."
The most common counties for calls to the helpline are Dublin, Monaghan, Limerick, Wexford and Waterford. Three out of every four callers are young girls.
The service had its Government funding axed in March after the HSE's National Office for Suicide Prevention announced it wouldn't be providing further monetary aid. To combat this funding drain the charity is now seeking a corporate sponsor.
"We are adamant to continue providing the service as we know how important what we do here is for so many teenagers," said McLoughlin. The freephone 1800833634 number is staffed by volunteers.