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Calls to Samaritans helpline down but people "still hurting very much"

In total, the helpline received 381,128 calls in the last year.

Image: worried man image via Shutterstock

CALLS TO THE Samaritans helpline over the last year are down 7.9 per cent on 2012, according to the charity’s 2013 impact report, published today.

In total, the helpline received 381,128 calls, with 245,510 of these recorded as dialogue calls.

The charity said a significant number of calls do not turn into a dialogue contact as callers will often dial multiple times until they build up the courage to talk or until they “hear the right voice at the end of the line”.

Samaritans Ireland has seen a shift in the trend of call times over the last year with the helpline receiving more calls from midnight to 6am than any other time during the day over the past year.

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Midnight to 1am on Friday and Saturday nights were the busiest times of the week and out of hours calls accounted for 68 per cent of all calls to the service.

“This – in our experience – is down to the fact that there are now more day-time services and helplines available and as part of our partnership work, many of these divert into Samaritans’ service after hours”, Catherine Brogan, Executive Director of Samaritans Ireland said at the launch of the report today.

It highlights the vital need to have a resilient, reliable and available support service round the clock, particularly when other front line services are closed. It’s clear that increasingly, Samaritans is acting as a safety net for all of Ireland’s emotional support services

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Still hurting

Almost 10,000 people had face to face contact with Samaritans in 2013, which is a 14 per cent increase on last year. While the number of calls received by Samaritans fell by 7 per cent on last year the number of contacts through other mediums increased by 18 per cent.

Brogan commented that the fall in the number of calls over the last year was a result of a number of factors.

To start with, calls are climbing down from an all-time-high of just over 400,000 in 2010/11 when the impacts of austerity were really begin felt. Some of the decrease in calls could be down to the fact that some people are feeling more hopeful about the future.

However she said the charity is acutely aware that “lots of people are still hurting very much”.

The issues of most concern to callers in 2013 related to family and relationship problems; depression and mental health issues; loneliness and stress or anxiety. These mirrored the most common issues for callers last year.

Tremendous work

Commenting on the publication of the report today, Minister of State for Mental Health Kathleen Lynch acknowledged the “tremendous work being delivered by volunteers”.

As we approach the Christmas holidays, I know Samaritans’ volunteers are scheduling round-the-clock shifts to make sure they are available to those who need emotional support. That hundreds of people throughout the country give so freely of their time to such an important cause is truly admirable

Samaritans Ireland is the longest-serving organisation in the area of emotional support and suicide prevention with 2,000 people volunteering around the country. If you feel like you need to talk to someone, you can contact them on 1850 60 90 90 or email jo@samaritans.org.

Read: Samaritans report rise in family and financial worries>

Read: No concerns for Samaritans confidentiality under Children First bill>

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