Save a Life - Counselling for People in Crisis

by Pieta House
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Save a Life - Counselling for People in Crisis
Save a Life - Counselling for People in Crisis
Save a Life - Counselling for People in Crisis

Since we first opened our doors in 2006, Pieta House has helped nearly 60,000 people. From our small one room office in Dublin, we have now grown to more than 270 staff members and provide our life saving services out of 15 centres and 4 outreaches across Ireland.

In 2019, Pieta House supported 8,048 Irish men, women, and children by delivering free and freely accessible professional crisis and bereavement counselling. These brave clients are people struggling with thoughts of suicide, who are self-harming, or who have lost a loved one to suicide.

Of the 8,048 clients who we supported last year, 27% had had a previous suicide attempt and 50% were at high risk of attempting suicide.

Our 24/7 Crisis Helpline manned by fully quilified therapists, fielded 13,705 phone calls from people in active crisis, concerned about a loved one, or who were bereaved by suicide. Corresponding with our growth in under 18 clients, our helpline responded to 31,139 text messages.

In 2019, of the 8,048 clients we supported, 30% of them were children under the age of 18. The largest demographic of clients accessing Pieta House were girls under the age of 18.

Though we are proud to have grown our services and supported an additional 1,000 clients in 2019, it is clear from this growth that there is much work still to be done in 2020.

In 2020 we are working to expand out under 18 counselling, to increase outreach offices in rural and hard to access locations, and work with statutory agencies to expand programme development.

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Pieta House exists because we believe that no one should feel so alone or so afraid that self-harm or suicide becomes an option they chose. We provide free and freely accessible professional therapy to those struggling with thoughts of suicide, who are self-harming, or who are bereaved by a suicide. Pieta House has supported nearly 48,000 people since we opened our doors in 2006. In collaboration with the Government, the HSE, local communities and non-statutory organisations like Pieta House, we work to combat stigma and prevent suicide on a national level. Despite our cooperative approach, suicide claims the lives of roughly 400 Irish men, women, and children every year. Additionally, Ireland has one of the highest rates of suicide for children under the age of 18. In 2018 alone, of our nearly 7,400 clients, 2,427 were children. Stigma and shame around suicide and mental health makes asking for help difficult for many in crisis.

The three pillars of the Pieta House model are prevention, intervention, and post vention. Pieta House works to combat the stigma around mental health and prevent deaths by suicide through advocacy campaigns and dialogue building initiatives. In tandem with our prevention pillar, we serve those in crisis or who have been bereaved by suicide with intervention and bereavement therapy. We offer therapy out of our 19 locations across the country, placed with a particular focus on disadvantaged and isolated communities. Our dedicated Suicide Bereavement Liaison Service is available across 12 regions and represents considerable growth made to support previously unserved CHO areas. In addition, our free call 24/7 helpline and text services are accessible to everyone in Ireland. Our therapy works to replace reasons for dying with reasons for living, self-harm with self-love, and to move people from a place of despair to a place of hope.

An aspect that makes Pieta House unique, is that it operates in non-institutional community settings. Additionally, our services are open to clients of all ages and backgrounds and provided free of charge, without the need for medical referral or prior psychiatric evaluation. For some prospective clients, significant courage is needed to ask for help and our job is to meet that courage with frictionless access to our services. The Pieta Way approach addresses many of the recognized barriers in accessing mental health services. All of our services are provided by therapists accredited with the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. Our work is aligned with the strategic objectives set out in Connecting for Life and we work in conjunction with statutory, non-statutory and community partners to ensure an integrated and holistic approach to client care is undertaken.


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In Ireland last year, over 365 lives were lost to suicide. That's more than a life a day. Will you help us reduce that number - one day at a time?

In June of this year Pieta House launched our centre in Galway City.

In 2006, Pieta House opened its doors in Lucan, County Dublin and since that day we have seen and helped over 40,000 people in suicidal distress or engaging in self-harm, and established 15 subsequent centres across Ireland.

From humble beginnings, Pieta House has grown to almost 270 therapists and administration staff, and the demand for our service hasn’t let up. In 2017 alone, over 7,000 people came through our doors suffering from suicidal ideation and/or engaging in self-harm, or to avail of suicide bereavement counselling.

As it has been from day one, everything is free of charge and our staff are fully qualified and provide a professional one-to-one therapeutic service for people who are experiencing suicidal ideation, people who have attempted suicide and people who are engaging in self-harm. A doctor’s referral or a psychiatric report is not required.

To support the people of Ireland, Pieta House runs a national free 24/7 Helpline manned by theraposts, an Suicide Bereavement Liasion Service for recently bereaved communities, a Bereavement service to dispense therapy to families and friends who have lost a loved on to suicide, and finally, in intervention service to provide those in suicide and self-harming crisis with the tools they need to turn from despair to hope.

In Quarter 1 of 2019 (January 1 through March 31) Pieta House answered 4,458 phone calls and 18,843 text messages from people contimplating suicide, engaging in self harm, or concerned about a loved one. Of the 4,458 calls there were 2,436 unique callers of which nearly 60% were female. This helpline is free of charged and manned by fully qualified therapists who can dispense therapy over the phone. They also signpost to regional services and link in at-risk callers with Pieta House centres near them.

In the first three months of 2019, our SBLO officers supported 102 people who were very recently bereaved by a suicide. Of these 102 people, 77 were within 3 months of the death,SBLO officers are unique in that they offer immediate support after a death by suicide such as helping arrange the funeral, communicating with the police, and informing work and school. This key time is crucial in stopping suicide clusters and supporting this vulnerable group. If, after the immediatie grief period, the family wants beravement therapy, the SBLO will link them in with a Pieta House location near to them

Pieta House supported 263 people in Quarter 1 with bereavement therapy. These are the friends, family, and communities who had lost a loved one to suicide. Bereavement therapy supports this group through a vulnerable stage of grief and provide them with life-saving coping skills. Our centre in Cork had the largest number of bereavement clients this quarter.

Last but not least, Pieta House provided life saving crisis counselling to 2,533 clients from January to March. Illustrating a dire trend we have seen over recent years, the majority of these clients were under the age of 18. Of that 2,533, 35% were classified as high risk for suicide at their assessments.

These statistics represent real people in Ireland who find life-saving care with Pieta House. These brave mena and women take the courageous step to ask for help, and we here at Pieta are so honoured to be their place of safety and healing. 


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Pieta House is works with statutory, non-statutory, and community groups across Ireland to ensure the best possible outcome for our clients. Each Pieta House location builds a relationship with local inward and outward referral pathways to maximize support for clients before, during, and after receiving counselling from Pieta House. Our therapists, administration, and clinical support officers connect with healthcare professionals, youth organizations, domestic violence survivors, and people experiencing homelessness.

As part of a proactive approach to suicide and self-harm, Pieta House has developed a number of initiatives aim at increasing support to the specified priority groups identified in the Connecting for Life program. This coincides with our own Strategic Plan, which outlines our renewed focus in implementing outreach and in reach services to access some of Ireland more vulnerable and high risk.

Planning is underway to support a translation programme within Pieta House services. This system will allow the deaf community, new migrants, refugees, and asylum seekers to access Pieta House’s lifesaving counselling in their native language. This programme is currently soliciting for funding, and once established, will extend into Direct Provision centres to provide wellness and signposting training to the asylum seekers in residence. This programme will collaborate with established organizations already engaged in the Direct Provision system and with the Deaf community and will involve bilateral trainings between Pieta House staff and partner organizations.

Pieta House is proud to be collaborating with the BelongTo which supports lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans young people in Ireland. Our Pieta House therapists offer in-house counselling service for LGBTQI+ community aged 14-23. Our Pieta Way services have been offered for two years now in BelongTo and talks are underway to expand hours offered in their offices.

Pieta House, in partnership with St. Patricks Mental Health Services, host Ireland annual Self-Harm Awareness Conference. The one-day conference provides a mix of practical workshops and presentations relevant to teaching staff, community workers, parents, and students to over 500 participants every year. The Self-Harm and Awareness Conference is approved for 6 CPD credits and 1-day GMS study leave by the ICGP.

Our overall objective is to reduce rates of suicide and self-harm throughout Ireland. Our services take a client centred and solution focused approach to support people and communities in crisis. At all times we work to identify and implement practical applications to address these needs. As of 2018, 60% of those who need our services can access it easily, we will work toward improving that number in 2019.

 Intended outcomes

  • Provide effective, evidence-informed and independently evaluated treatment across all services
  • Reduce overall rates of suicide and self-harm in Ireland
  • Increase accessibility of Pieta House services to those in need (in-person and remote)
  • Access to a free 24/7 365 crisis line and text service fully integrated to support and emergency response services
  • Increase uptake of mental health support services by those in need – in particular, members of specified priority groups
  • Access to targeted suicide and self-harm prevention programmes
  • Increase completion of treatment programmes by clients who have accessed services
  • Contribute to an inclusive understanding of mental health that will be of benefit to all mental health service providers
  • Through a penetrating public engagement campaign, we hope to broaden knowledge and engagement between clients, communities and Pieta House to address suicide and self-harm


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Pieta House was founded in 2006 and is the largest provider of therapy services for suicide and self-harm in Ireland. As of 2018, our services are available in 15 centres nationwide. We work in conjunction with the National Office for Suicide Prevention, the Health Service Executive, Tusla – the Child and Family Support Agency and other national and local services to maximise care for our clients.

In 2018, Pieta House provided crisis intervention counselling for more than 6,500 people nationwide. We have seen significant growth in client numbers so far in our 5 Dublin centres with 3,152 people accessing our services in the first 11 months of 2018. We expect to provide crisis counselling to 1,000 more clients in 2018 in comparison to 2017 totals.

Pieta House provided suicide bereavement counselling in 376 cases between January 2018 and November 2018. Bereavement support service users access the service through contact with our helpline, Pieta House centres, or our Suicide Bereavement Liaison Service. 3,587 hours of bereavement counselling were delivered in 2017 and 4,130 hours in the first ten months of 2018.

 Between January 2018 and December 2018, we received over 14,118 calls to our helpline. Of those calls, more than half were referred on to further services within Pieta. Of those who had been referred, the majority were referred on to counselling in Pieta House Tallaght. Of the 14,118 who called, 3,560 were first time callers. The two main presenting conditions of the callers were those suffering from depression and anxiety. Of the callers who were expressing suicidal ideation, 1007 stated that they had attempted suicide in the past.

This year, the GAA, IRFU, Connaught Rugby, and Pieta House has held a number of high-profile events signposting vulnerable people and their support network to contact our services if they need help or guidance. For the last five years, we have teamed up with St Patrick’s Mental Health Services to co-host a Self-Harm  Awareness Conference.  This is Ireland’s first  ever  conference  dedicated  to  the topic of self-harm and explores what we know, what we don’t know and what direction need to be taken. In October 2018, Pieta House collaborated with Lyons Tea to host “Now We’re Talking,” a panel discussion directed towards young people which worked to destigmatize mental health and encourage people to talk and seek help when needed. In November 2018, our former CEO Brian Higgins spoke on a panel at Zeminar, a convention geared towards secondary students encouraging young people to combat stigma and addressed bullying in schools. Our “Feel Good Week” campaign was a national initiative to encourage social connection and to encourage feel good and healthy habits, which increase resilience and lower a person’s risk of suicide.

Pieta  House  uses  its  digital  voice  to  support  people  who  may  be  struggling  with  thoughts  of suicide, be engaging in self-harm or are concerned about another person. We regularly engage with our 200,000 Facebook followers, 38,000 Twitter followers, and 13,000 Instagram followers.

Your generous support makes our life saving work possible. Thank you for giving the gift of hope in 2018!


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Organization Information

Pieta House

Location: Tallaght, Dublin 24 - Ireland
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @PietaHouse
Pieta House
Erin McKay
Project Leader:
Erin McKay
Tallaght, Dublin 24 Ireland

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