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Samaritans’ SMS service reveals high levels of self-harm

The Dublin Samaritans service says one-in-three texts received in 2012 mentioned self-harm, a higher rate than calls or email.

Samaritans can be contacted at any time, day or night, at 1850 60 90 90.
Samaritans can be contacted at any time, day or night, at 1850 60 90 90.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

ONE IN THREE people texting the Samaritans text message support service in Dublin last year discussed self-harming, the charity has revealed.

Publishing its 2012 annual report yesterday, the charity said this rate of prevalence was significantly higher than contact made over the phone or by email.

The charity’s 280 volunteers in the capital received almost 80,000 contacts last year, the majority of them by telephone – including 25,728 calls which lasted less than 10 seconds.

The group received text message contact from 1,958 people, emails from 1,489, and had face-to-face contact with 1,468 people at its offices on Marlborough Street.

Overall, the number of contacts fell by 1.6 per cent in 2012, though take-up of its email and face-to-face services increased.

Female callers made up the majority of those who contacted in 2012; while about half of the face-to-face and telephone contacts were made by women, 77 per cent of emails and 89 per cent of texts were sent by females.

Loneliness or anxiety was the most-cited concern in contact received by the public, appearing in nearly half of all contact, while relationship difficulties and health concerns also ranked highly.

Financial difficulties (10 per cent), loss or bereavement (9 per cent) and addiction (7 per cent) were also common concerns.

Dublin Samaritans director Eileen Foley said the figures in the report bore out the day-to-day experience of Samaritans voluneers.

“We would urge anyone who does have feelings of self-harm to contact someone about it – either an organisation like Samaritans, a GP or a person that they can trust,” she said.

The charity’s freephone emotional support helpline, available at 116 123, is due to launch in the spring.

Samaritans can be contacted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at 1850 60 90 90, by email at jo@samaritans.org, by text to 087 2609090, or face-to-face at 112 Marlborough Street, Dublin 1, between 10am and 9pm seven days a week. No appointment is necessary.

Read: Samaritans report rise in family and financial worries

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