Calls to Console's free suicide prevention helpline rose by more than 21% over the Christmas and New Year period, the national suicide prevention and bereavement charity has said.

An average of 185 calls per day were received by Console over the holiday period, with 4,116 people ringing the helpline in December.

Console founder and CEO Paul Kelly said: "There was a notable increase in calls from New Year's Day onwards from people in real despair and experiencing feelings of hopelessness, with many in suicidal crisis or in the process of taking their lives.

"We also received an increasing number of calls from third parties concerned about a loved one who was actively suicidal, self harming or in emotional or psychological distress.

"The increase in calls illustrates a huge demand for the Console freephone 1800 247 247 suicide prevention helpline, with over 3,400 calls now received per month.

"We also experienced a large rise in young men texting HELP to 51444 who may be in suicidal crisis, have attempted suicide or are engaging in deliberate acts of self harm,” he added.

Console helpline staff members are trained to make an intervention if needed and the organisation said it has seen a marked increase in outgoing contact with the frontline emergency services such as the gardaí, ambulance or hospitals on behalf of callers.