THE SAMARITANS IS bringing in a new free phone number to replace its existing low-call number as part of a change being implemented across Europe.
The new phone number – 116 123 – means people who are struggling to cope will no longer have to pay anything to access the service.
The change is part of a plan by the European Commission to make some helplines easy to remember and free of charge using the format 116 + 3 digits.
The Samaritans was assigned the emotional support helpline by communications watchdog ComReg.
The helpline received more than 380,000 calls last year, with many of the calls happening late at night.
The Samaritans said the issues brought up the most by callers were family and relationship problems, depression and mental health issues, loneliness and stress or anxiety.
The new phone number will be launched later today by Ministers Pat Rabitte and Kathleen Lynch.