Ireland’s oldest LGBT support service, Gay Switchboard, has celebrated its 40th year of service. A study by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland in 2013 suggested that LGBT people are seven times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers. Similarly, a recent UK study, which So So Gay reported on in January, highlights that over half of young gay people suffer with mental health issues, with over 40% having considered suicide at some stage.

Originally called Tel-A-Friend and founded in 1974, Gay Switchboard has been a constant source of help for the LGBT community. The service, open seven days a week, answers over 2,700 calls each year and is staffed entirely by trained volunteers.

Senator David Norris, who was on the steering group in 1973 to establish the phone support service, said: ‘I can hardly believe that it is 40 years since Tel-A-Friend was actually founded. The work of Gay Switchboard is extremely important. There is still a level of fear and shame as well as confusion for young people around the country discovering they may be LGBT. It is a wonderful and humanitarian gesture to lend a comforting ear to those in distress. It is also a great privilege.’

Gay Switchboard Ireland is open seven days a week on 01-872 1055. They also provide help and advice via their website, email and with a weekly face to face drop in support service.