ALARMED by the number of student suicides in the territory, the KELY Support Group plans to set up Cantonese services for youths in crisis. KELY's director, Mr Chris Simpson, said young people were taking their lives because they believed there was nowhere else to turn, or no other way to grab attention. ''That young people are throwing themselves from buildings shows the extent to which other avenues for help have been closed to them,'' he said. ''Through peer support groups and counselling we can offer them contact with people who have dealt with similar situations.'' The idea took root last October when KELY was inundated with calls from Cantonese youths during its anti-drug poster campaign in MTR stations. ''It was very frustrating,'' Mr Simpson said. ''These people were looking for help but because of the language barrier there was little we could do.'' Alice, a 17-year-old student, said most of her friends did not feel comfortable discussing personal problems with teachers or school counsellors. ''The counsellor comes in Wednesday afternoons and most students haven't even met her,'' she said. ''Kids are sent to her about problems, but I doubt they would go of their own free will.'' If parents were not supportive, students had few alternatives for help in dealing with emotional problems, she said. Along with three other Form Six students, Alice has approached KELY to help them set up a peer support group in their school. Mr Simpson said KELY would like to provide more services for students like Alice and as a first step the group has translated its publicity material into Cantonese. KELY runs weekly peer support meetings, a 24-hour hotline, a school outreach programme and individual and family counselling sessions for a mainly expatriate clientele. But about $5 million would be needed for a three-year pilot project to provide these same services in Cantonese, Mr Simpson said. KELY is nearing the end of a week-long campaign to raise $500,000 to cover operating expenses for the next six months. So far they have received $224,000. The principal of CARITAS' St Francis pre-vocational school, Mr Peter Lee Shung-tak, said as a young and informal organisation offering peer support, KELY was unique in Hongkong. ''Young people want someone their own age, with the same circumstances and experiences. Then they will feel free to express themselves,'' he said. KELY has consulted CARITAS about launching a school outreach programme, but the major stumbling block is funding. ''Our principals reacted positively. But it is a question of when KELY will be able to hire Chinese staff and begin the service,'' Mr Lee said. Meanwhile, two restaurants in Pacific Place - La Rose Noire and Pomeroy's - have joined the KELY campaign and will distribute donation envelopes to clients. DONATIONS can be sent to the KELY Support Group at Ground Floor, Montgomery Block, 42B Kennedy Road, Hongkong. Alternately, a cash transfer can be made at any branch of the Hongkong Bank into Account No: 002-5-312075.