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Samaritans reports increase in calls as Christmas approaches

The economic crisis is having a terrible impact on the public’s emotional wellbeing, Samaritans says, as calls increase.

THE DIRECTOR of Samaritans in Ireland says there has been a significant increase in the volume of calls being logged by its service as the country’s financial state continued to deteriorate.

Launching Samaritans’ first ever Impact Report for Ireland, Suzanne Costello said the service had seen a “correlation” between the state of the Irish economy and the number of calls the service was receiving.

The ability to speak to someone and not be judged by them, she said, was a “huge relief” to people feeling under strain.

The service said it had recorded 243,000 calls in the twelve months to October 2010, an increase of 13,000 on the twelve months previous. An average of one in eight calls related specifically to people calling over worries about their financial situations.

Costello said that rate was broadly similar with the frequency of finance-related calls to Samaritans’ UK service. By comparison, last year one in every ten calls related to financial pressures.

Although calls to the Samaritans’ service cost 6c from landlines regardless of the length of a call, the service was looking to secure a 1800 free-to-call number because users on mobile phones – from which calls cost 33c – may have been unable to call given their financial difficulties.

“Now that the country is in such grave financial crisis, all of those at work in the area of suicide prevention – including voluntary organisations, like Samaritans, and statutory organisations – must work more cohesively to ensure there is no unnecessary duplication of services,” Costello said.

“Critically, there must be continued investment in services and supports for people with acute depression and anxiety, so that suicide rates do not continue to rise.”

Samaritans’ helpline number is 1850 60 90 90.

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