Limerick’s Louise Cooney heads up Pieta’s Christmas Campaign #HopeOverSilence

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Pictured at the launch of Pieta’s Christmas campaign, #HopeOverSilence recently is Pieta ambassador Louise Cooney

LIMERICK influencer and Pieta ambassador Louise Cooney, who previously raised €90,000 for the suicide prevention charity, is encouraging the nation to choose #HopeOverSilence this Christmas.

Every week, 10 bereaved people contact the charity to avail of the Suicide Bereavement Liaison Service. Pieta is encouraging the nation to take a minute this Christmas and speak up about their own mental health and/or open up about the loss of a loved one.

Members of the public can support this initiative by placing a candle in their window to represent hope this evening at 7pm. Instead of a moment’s silence, call a friend, talk to a family member or housemate, or join in the social #HopeOverSilence conversation to help us all feel connected this Christmas.

Speaking at the launch of the #HopeOverSilence appeal, Dublin GAA star and Pieta ambassador, Shane Carthy, said; “Christmas can be one of the most difficult times of the year for people struggling with their mental health and especially during these extra trying times when there is so much uncertainty around what the next few months will look like. There are many things that can trigger anxiety and a feeling of loneliness at Christmas so it’s important that we ensure we stay connected and speak up to ensure hope – over silence”

Over one third of clients who require Pieta’s services cite loneliness as the reason they are feeling hopeless. This coupled with the darkness at this time of year can really bring people down and be challenging for people struggling with mental health or bereavement. It’s important to open conversations and support those around you including friends, family, work colleagues and housemates. It’s harder to see the light in extreme darkness but the support is there and it’s important to open that conversation.

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Leigh Kenny, Regional Manager and Therapist with Pieta, also added that; “For many people, Christmas is a happy time to connect and celebrate with others. But it can also be a particularly difficult time for people who may be struggling due to bereavement. The demand for Pieta’s free 24-hour helpline is particularly high during December because the reality is that Christmas can be a lonely and isolating time of year. In 2020, over 20 per cent of Pieta’s overall clients for the year contacted us in December.

“The intensity of Christmas and the expectation to be continuously cheerful can amplify feelings of hopelessness and loneliness. Our team of trained counsellors on our Helpline are there 24/7 to listen and support you in finding your way through this time. As calls and texts to our helpline increase this Christmas, Pieta needs your support more than ever, so please donate via our website at pieta.ie.”

This year Pieta’s therapists have provided almost 4,700 hours of bereavement therapy through the Suicide Bereavement Liaison Service.

If you or anyone you know is suffering this year the service can be contacted on 1800 247 247, you can also text HELP to 51444 (standard message rates apply). As 80 per cent of Pieta’s funding comes from the public, support is vital to help continue this lifesaving work. Pieta runs a range of services nationwide to support people and communities in crisis, including free counselling services and support for those who are at the risk of suicide, engaging in self-harm and those bereaved by suicide. All services are provided free of charge and no referral is needed.

To donate directly to Pieta or for more support information, please visit www.pieta.ie