Belfast Telegraph

Depressed people urged to seek help

People who plunge in to post-Christmas depression have been urged to seek help before emotional and financial pressures reach crisis point.

A suicide prevention helpline revealed more people call for support in the first three months of the year as they try to cope with the fallout of festivities.

Ciaran Austin, helpline manager with 1Life, called on those in need to lift up the phone before a problem becomes a crisis.

"A lot of people assume Christmas is the most challenging time and it could be given the financial pressure and weather we had," he said. "But people can be really busy over that time and then they have the hangover from Christmas in the new year.

"People go back to work and back to reality. Maybe it's a time when they are sitting at home and have more time on their hands. The vicious cycle of debt can also be accelerated after Christmas. But people can lose sight that these problems can be managed with advice and support. What we are really saying to people is that services are open 24/7 every day of the year."

Anyone who needs support should freephone 1Life on 1800 24 7 100 (or text HELP to 51444) and Samaritans on 1850 60 90 90. Families bereaved by suicide can also call Console on 1800 201 890.

A total of 527 people died by suicide last year, a 24% rise from 2008.

Paul Kelly, who set up Console after his sister died by suicide, said anyone who feels alone, bereaved or worried about the future should pick up the phone to talk to someone.

"This is a difficult time of the year," said Mr Kelly. "We have people calling up who are concerned about a loved one who is displaying signs of withdrawal, of suicide or self harm. We also have people who are in difficult times, experiencing great distress because of financial strains and job losses and that have to clear debts. People are worried about the future."

Mr Austin, whose brother died by suicide at 22, said 1Life takes up to 3,000 calls a month, but expects a 20% rise in the new year.

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