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Samaritans to receive new freephone number from next year

The news comes as a result of a collaboration between the emotional support service and six telecoms companies.

The current number for Samaritans.
The current number for Samaritans.
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

THE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT service, Samaritans, has today announced that it is to provide a new, free helpline number from next year.

The news comes as a result of it partnering with six of the largest telecoms companies in Ireland: BT Ireland; eircom/Meteor; O2; Three; UPC; and Vodafone.

Due to be operational in the first half of 2013, the new number will be 116 123.

In July of 2007, the European Commission reserved this number for use as an emotional support helpline for all EU member states.

As the only organisation in Ireland which meets the criteria set down by the European Commission – which includes its round the clock availability – Samaritans were allocated the number.

An initial funding of two years has been made available in order for the number to be free.

Announcing the news, the director of Samaritans Ireland, Suzanne Costello, said:

At present, Samaritans operates a lo-call helpline number, which received more than 400,000 calls over the past twelve months. Eircom has always generously supported this lo-call helpline.
The fact that the five other largest telecoms providers are now joining eircom to support Samaritans’ new helpline number is ground-breaking, and a great example of collaboration between the voluntary and commercial sectors.

Once up and running, the number will be free to those who are customers of the six telecoms companies, providing a annual value in excess of €400,000.

Believing that the current lo-call number remains a barrier to some, Costello hopes that having a freephone number will change this.

Welcoming the announcement was Minister of State at the Department of Health, Kathleen Lynch TD:

As Minister with responsibility for mental health, I am acutely aware of the vital work undertaken by Samaritans. The numbers taking their own lives in Ireland is at an all-time high and there is not a community in the country that has not been affected by the trauma and despair that surrounds suicide.

If you’d like to contact Samaritans in confidence, their phone number is 1850 60 90 90. For more, visit www.samaritans.org.

Read: Samaritans volunteer on cusp of completing 24:7 bike challenge >

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Paul Hyland

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