THIS is a busy time for Pieta. The charity, which helps those engaging in self-harm and suffering suicidal distress, has seen an increase in calls to its helpline as a result of the Covid lockdown.
Pieta’s Funding and Advocacy Coordinator for Cork, Darran Coyle Garde, explains: “The ongoing Covid lockdown means that many people are feeling anxious and stressed and this anxiety may be heightened with the barrage of bad news across the media. We are seeing the results of all this with more and more people calling our helpline.”
A busy time too because this week, Pieta — in partnership with Electric Ireland — launched its crisis Sunrise appeal, following the postponement of its flagship fundraiser ‘Darkness Into Light’ to the autumn.
Darren emphasises the need for this special appeal.
“80% of our funds come from the public and the contributions we would normally generate from Darkness Into Light are critical to supporting our services. We are encouraging people to donate what they can to Pieta and to come together — while remaining apart — by getting up at 5:30am to watch the sunrise and to show community and solidarity with those impacted by suicide.
Pieta and Electric Ireland are also asking people to spread the message and offer hope by sharing their sunrise moment using the #DIL2020.
“We’re reaching out to everybody to say we’re still open, that the service is still operating for everyone in the community,” says Darran.
“Plus, we’re trying to rally people to continue supporting us so that we can continue to deliver our one-to-one counselling. This counselling is now delivered via phone by our local centres and via our 1800 247 247 Helpline.”
Given the current social isolation, it is more important than ever to check in on friends and family who may be struggling to cope.
Pieta Therapists Helping People Cope
Suicidal thoughts of self-harm can affect anyone at any time but clearly the current situation can exasperate the strain that a person is under.
Jobs lost, reduced working hours, worry about personal finances, worry about loved ones, loneliness for some and the stress caused by lack of personal space for others are just some of the issues arising from these exceptional circumstances. For Pieta, this has led to a high volume of calls from people looking for help.
“Everybody has some level of anxiety and the calls are continuously coming in at the moment,” adds Darran.
“There is also a number that people can text if they’re finding it difficult to get through to our 1800 247 247 number.
“All you have to do is, text HELP, along with their name and contact details to 51444 and we’ll engage with them as soon as we possibly can. Our helpline and text support is also operated by a therapist.”
Pieta has helped almost 60,000 people since it was first established over fifteen years ago. It focusses on those who are in suicidal distress or engaging in self-harm. The team of professional therapists offer coping mechanisms to clients and look to offer a new perspective on any issues that they’re trying to overcome.
The free counselling service provides a safe place for those who get in touch and can help get through their crisis.
Participants at the Darkness Into Light event in Cork City sponsored by Electric Ireland overlooking the river Lee and UCC Quad.
Being There for Each Other
The importance of being there for your loved ones, friends and the community is critical and can make a huge difference in people’s lives.
Darran encourages people to reach out to friends or loved ones with a phone call or text at this difficult time.
“There will be an end to this at some point, but until then we need to stay connected. Remember we are all in this together” he explains. Reach out to those in need.
“Reach out to people who you might think are OK but a phone call might assure you of that or create a new pathway for a conversation in that person’s life that might help them through that day.
“That’s all we’re asking. Just take one day at a time and just try to help people who are a little bit more vulnerable than you are.”
Pieta recommends reaching out directly to those whom you feel are may be struggling.
“We say not to hesitate in asking somebody are they suicidal. I know it’s a very, very tough question to even imagine having to ask. But if somebody is concerned about a friend or a loved one who they think isn’t in a good place, they need to confront that person and say ‘Are you suicidal?’ Just by asking that question, you can motivate somebody into action.”
Talking about mental health does not come easy to many people and it may be the first time they have considered opening up to another person about their mental wellbeing. This first step can lead to their getting professional help and that’s where Pieta comes in.
Pieta services are provided free of charge with no hospital or GP referral required. To talk to a Therapist free call 1800 247 247 or text help to 51444.
Visit Pieta.ie if you would like to make a donation alternatively, you can call 01 541 4746 and make a donation over the phone.