A new out-of-hours counselling service to prevent self-harm among the homeless is being launched by Dublin Simon.

The rate of self-harm among homeless people is 22 times greater than the general population, according to hospital emergency room statistics between 2010 and 2014.

Dublin Simon Service’s Manager Derek Dempsey set up the Sure Steps counselling service in 2012 because of the difficulty in getting appointments for their clients from existing services .

Dublin Simon received 48 referrals in the first year, rising to 348 last year, offering over 3,000 one-to-one counselling hours available annually.

Mr Dempsey said many of their clients had suffered trauma in their lives but the actual shock of becoming homeless was a trauma in itself.

He said many suffered from a sense of hopelessness that they would ever move on.

A study of 17 clients found all experienced a reduction in suicide ideation.

The service will now run during the evening and weekends with counsellors available at hostels.