28 May 2022

Worrying increase in under 18-year-old clients at Pieta as demand for service grows

The overall number of people of all ages seeking therapy continues to rise


Increase in people seeking help from Pieta

The number of under 18s seeking support from suicide prevention charity Pieta has increased by 42% in 2021. 

The number of clients in this age group has more than doubled on this time last year.

Furthermore, the overall, demand for Pieta’s services has grown by 22% since last year, with 4,620 people of all ages seeking the charity’s support so far this year.

That is according to figures released on Monday by the national suicide and self-harm prevention charity.

As a result of growing demand, Pieta is now recruiting additional therapists to meet this urgent demand for services.

Pieta’s Clinical Director Emma Dolan said: “This summer, Pieta is working with more young people than ever before. And in the past three months demand has been significantly higher than in previous years. Typically, we see a decrease in our under 18’s attending Pieta over the summer months, however, this year this has not been the case.

“While every case is different, we know it’s been a very challenging year for young people, with the additional pandemic uncertainty leading to more anxiety generally. 

“Children and adolescents are more concerned about their future and we have also seen a rise in body image issues. Pieta is responding to this increase in demand by hiring more psychotherapists who can work with young people and more therapists to provide our free counselling services.”

Since the onset of the pandemic, Pieta has developed phone and video therapy services in addition to providing therapy in its 20 locations nationwide.

Pieta is also currently working with UCD, supported by the National Office of Suicide Prevention on an innovative project. The aim is to research, design and develop better psychoeducation supports for parents of young people experiencing self-harm. 

They will be shortly launching a Know the Signs Campaign to help people to recognise if someone close might be struggling.

Ms Dolan said: “It’s critical we all know the signs, for example; if someone is talking about suicide, saying they feel like a burden, withdrawing from friends, or are becoming more anxious.
“We encourage people to listen and be present, give reassurance, and to encourage social interaction and a healthy lifestyle. 

“We also always advise to contact or refer to an appropriate service for help and support, and if the concern is immediate, contact emergency services. Our crisis helpline is also available 24/7 and we encourage people to reach out to Pieta, help is here, you are not alone.”

Pieta are currently recruiting psychotherapists across all locations to try and meet rising demand and reduce waiting lists, and in particular, support and deliver counselling to Under 18 clients. This has been, in the most part, as a direct result of public donations to Pieta.

CEO Elaine Austin said: “We are deeply grateful to every one of our supporters for their unwavering commitment and support, it is with their backing that we are able to expand and deliver our lifesaving services to our clients, especially at this time.”

Anyone who is concerned about someone or are experiencing suicide ideation is encouraged to please call Pieta’s Freephone 24/7 Crisis Helpline 1800 247 247

Further information on services or on making a donation can be found at or by calling 01 541 4746.


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