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Samaritans report rise in family and financial worries

Seventy per cent of respondents rated money and debt among their top five worries in 2012.

Image: wavebreakmedia via Shutterstock

IRISH PEOPLE ARE far more worried about their finances than they were a year go, according to the Samaritans’ annual worries survey 2012.

The YouGov poll for Samaritans, published today, shows that 70 per cent of respondents rate money and debt among their top five worries – a rise of six per cent from 2011.

More women (73 per cent) reported being than men (67 per cent), and financial concerns were especially acute amongst people between the ages of 35 and 44 (77 per cent).

Money worries were noticeably higher amongst people from lower socio-economic groups, which at 75 per cent was 9 per cent higher than the 66 per cent recorded for middle classes. Semi-skilled or unskilled manual workers reported being the most worried of all about finances, at 81 per cent, with professionals or higher technical workers such as doctors and accountants the least worried about money, at 62 per cent.

Meanwhile, family-related worries have risen nine per cent on 2011 to 46 per cent, and there has also been a rise in concerns over physical health, up six to 38 per cent.

Thirty per cent of respondents said issues surrounding national politics and the current government were most important to them, while international affairs were deemed as most important by 19 per cent.

Dealing with worries

When asked how they dealt with stress, 43 per cent said they would talk about their worries. However, while more than half of women surveyed would talk (54 per cent), less than a third of men (31 per cent) said they would do the same.

Having a “social drink” would be the choice of 29 per cent – and was more popular with men (32 per cent) than women (26 per cent). Using recreational drugs was the coping method chosen by five per cent, and was cited by 13 per cent of the 18-24 year old age group.

Turning to religious or spiritual beliefs was a method used by 18 per cent, with men at 15 per cent and women on 20 per cent. In Northern Ireland the figure was four per cent higher at 22 per cent, while the UK average was just nine per cent.

“It’s clear that a large majority of Irish people are very worried about money. However, less than a third of men are choosing to talk about their problems, which is a real concern. We know from our work that middle aged men, from disadvantaged groups, are at higher risk of suicide, which is why Samaritans is making a special effort to reach out to them,” said Pio Fenton, Chairperson of Samaritans.

“Sometimes it can be difficult to talk to family and friends about your problems, but it can help to see your situation in a new light and find a way forward. We’d like to remind people struggling to cope, that Samaritans will continue to be there for anybody who needs somebody to listen to them.”

Samaritans recently launched We’re in Your Corner, a campaign aimed at men in their 30s, 40s, and 50s from the lower socio-economic groups who are at higher risk of suicide, and have also released a research document, Men and Suicide, examining why some men are at higher risk of suicide.

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