1,100 calls to Teenline in six-hour Christmas period

By Mary Dennehy

OVER 1,100 calls and texts were received by listening charity TeenLine Ireland over a six-hour period on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, The Echo has learned.

Based in Tallaght, the confidential listening service, which operates daily from 8pm to 11pm, has set down the foundations for significant growth in 2017 - which includes opening a second call centre on the Northside of the city, increased helpline hours, the further development of its schools programme and the launching of a webchat system.

TeenLine 29 december 2016

However, in order to support more young people, and respond to the growing demand, TeenLine is in urgent need of volunteers.

Between 8pm and 11pm on Christmas Eve and 8pm and 11pm on Christmas Day alone, TeenLine received more than 400 phone calls and 700 text messages from young people feeling alone, stressed, depressed or with suicidal ideations – or those simply in need of a chat.

So far this year there has been over 24,000 phone calls to the helpline and 26,000 text messages, with an additional 14,000 text messages received in 2016 when compared with 2015.

Declan Brennan, TeenLine Chairperson, told The Echo: “Between 18 and 19 per cent of all TeenLine calls and texts are suicidal ideation, with around 45 per cent of young people having a bad day or feeling down.

“We’ve had a lot of calls in 2016 from young people whose families are struggling financially and their at home listening to their parents.

“These young people don’t know how to deal with this situation and they feel they can’t go to their parents or a family member, so they call TeenLine.

“We want young people to know that they don’t have to feel suicidal or be self-harming to call TeenLine.

“Some young people see helplines as crisis lines and that they have to be in real trouble to ring.

“However, that’s not the case. Anybody dealing with an issue, or whose feeling a bit down and needs a chat can call…because these worries can add up.”

Over the past year, TeenLine volunteers have visited more than 150 schools nationwide and handed out around 48,000 free wristbands.

“We’ve fully embedded our schools programme, and already have six schools booked in for January”, Mr Brennan said.
“While raising awareness of TeenLine we also remind young people that they don’t have to feel that there’s nobody out there… because they are never alone.

“We want to normalise that it’s ok to not be ok and to ask for help.

“We also stress that TeenLine volunteers can’t see a young person’s number when they call and the young person is fully in control during the call… and can hang up the phone at any time.”

After a number of significant developments in 2016, TeenLine is looking forward to introducing a number of new measures in 2017.

Mr Brennan said: “We’re so proud to be here in Tallaght and this will always be our main base.

“However, we feel that there is the need for a second call centre and are in advanced discussions for a call centre on the Northside of the city.

“We’d also like to increase our hours from 8pm to 11pm to 4pm to 11pm and get our webchat system up-and-running.
“However, we are in urgent need of volunteers and anybody interested is encouraged to get in touch.”

He added: “TeenLine has built some real foundations this year and while unfortunately the numbers of those getting in touch is going up, we are building TeenLine into a service that will be here for young people into the future.”

To contact TeenLine, which is open over the New Year’s weekend, call 1800 833 634 between 8pm and 11pm daily or text Teen to 50015.

To call the office about volunteering, with all volunteers trained and upskilled, ring 4622122 or 4622124.

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