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One in every six calls to Samaritans were recession-related

This was the busiest year yet for Samaritans, with longer calls to their helpline and more face-to-face contact at its branches.

Samaritan volunteers, John Fitzpatrick, Jill Leo, Sean Forde and Gina Phillips.
Samaritan volunteers, John Fitzpatrick, Jill Leo, Sean Forde and Gina Phillips.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THIS YEAR WAS the busiest for Samaritans Ireland, with a total of 412,167 calls to the helpline, an increase of 3 per cent on last year.

Calls to the helpline were also longer and focused on more complicated and interlinked problems than ever before, according Samaritans’ 2012 Impact Report.

Samaritans received the highest number of calls on Thursday, 15 March 2012, when 930 calls were answered.  A high number of calls, 924, were also answered on Saturday, 7 January and 898 were answered on Sunday, 8 April.

The hours of 6pm to midnight are the busiest for the helpline, while the quietest time is from 6am to noon, when 17 per cent of calls are received.

The Listener Scheme run by Samaritans in a number of State prisons – whereby the organisation trains inmates to provide emotional support to their peers – also experienced a significant rise in calls, 83 per cent up on last year.

One in every six calls to the helpline this year was recession-related, an increase since 2011, when only one in 10 calls was linked to the recession. Samaritans’ National Chair, Pio Fenton said money is an issue that seems to be causing more and more difficulty for people:

There has been a real hardening of despair amongst many of those who contact us; people are struggling to cope in the face of uncertainty around employment, personal debt and other financial concerns.

Other common issues that arose this year were family and relationship problems; depression and mental health issues; loneliness; stress and anxiety; and abuse.

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Samaritans also recorded a 17 per cent increase in the level of face-to-face contact at its branches around the country. Suzanne Costello, Executive Director of Samaritans Ireland, said this was a notable improvement and ”reflects a willingness amongst people to talk about their problems”.

Around 1,400 people volunteer for Samaritans around the country and Kathleen Lynch, Minister of State for Disability, Older People, Equality and Mental Health, admired their work:

What is hugely commendable is the fact that this support is delivered by volunteers.  As we approach the Christmas holidays, I know Samaritans’ volunteers are scheduling round-the-clock shifts to ensure 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’ helpline number is 1850 60 90 90.

Read: Suicide helplines experiencing more calls from worried family members >

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