Hundreds of callers have swamped two counselling hotlines set up amid the financial crisis. The Social Welfare Department said yesterday 351 calls had been handled since the hotlines began operation on Monday. The lines are being operated by Tung Wah Group of Hospitals' CEASE Crisis Centre and Caritas' Family Crisis Support Centre, with HK$1.2 million of funding provided by the government. Social workers warned of suicides, domestic violence and other potential problems. CEASE hotline project officer Tracy Leung Tsui-wan said that over the past four days, the centre had dealt with a 'phenomenal' 88 calls about investment losses. She said some callers felt too guilty to tell family members about their investment failures. About 40 per cent of callers who complained about investment losses had bought Lehman Brothers-related financial products. 'Tens of thousands of people are affected by the Lehman Brothers minibonds. Even if not all of them call, it's going to be a lot for us,' she said. Minibonds were risky credit-linked derivatives marketed as proxy investment in top companies. Caritas' Pinky Yung Lai-ping said some callers expressed suicidal thoughts. The social workers said the next few months could see the situation worsen if the economy was hit hard. The government said people experiencing emotional or family problems due to personal financial crises were encouraged to call the CEASE hotline (2454 8800) or the Caritas hotline (3162 3030) for assistance.