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Sunday 22 October 2017

One in three calls to Samaritans made in middle of the night

Pictured at the launch of the Samaritans annual impact report were Kathleen Lynch TD (L), Minister of State for Disability, Equality and Mental Health and Catherine Brogan, Executive Director, Samaritans Ireland. Photo: Conor O Mearain
Pictured at the launch of the Samaritans annual impact report were Kathleen Lynch TD (L), Minister of State for Disability, Equality and Mental Health and Catherine Brogan, Executive Director, Samaritans Ireland. Photo: Conor O Mearain

Ed Carty

MORE than a third of people feeling depressed or suicidal look for help in the middle of the night, the Samaritans have revealed.

Midnight to 1am on Friday and Saturday nights were the busiest times of the week for the charity's helplines while 37pc of all calls in the past year were made from midnight to 6am.

But the organisation said the number of people looking for help was climbing down from an all-time high of just over 400,000 when the country's economic collapse was at its worst in 2010/11.

The review of services from November last year to the end of October this year showed 381,128 calls to the Samaritans along with 13,081 emails, 9,853 text messages and 7,911 face-to-face contacts.

Average call time is 14 minutes.

Catherine Brogan, executive director of Samaritans Ireland, said there may be a feeling in some sections of the community that prospects are improving.

"Some of the decrease in calls could be down to the fact that some people are feeling more hopeful about the future," she said.

Samaritans Ireland impact report revealed that out-of-hours calls to its helplines were up by 9pc on last year and accounted for 68pc of all calls to the service. Almost 10,000 people had face-to-face contact with the organisation's staff, a 14pc increase on last year, and while it said the number of calls it took fell by 7pc on last year, the number of contacts through other mediums increased by 18pc.

DYNAMICS

Ms Brogan said: "A number of dynamics have resulted in changes to the type and timing of contacts to Samaritans in 2013. For starters, we are noticing that nighttime periods are increasingly busy with more calls coming through, and these calls are lasting longer.

"This -- in our experience -- is down to the fact that there are now more daytime services and helplines available and as part of our partnership work, many of these divert into Samaritans' service after hours.

"It highlights the vital need to have a resilient, reliable and available support service round the clock, particularly when other frontline services are closed.

"It's clear that increasingly, Samaritans is acting as a safety net for all of Ireland's emotional support services."

Samaritans said the issues of most concern to callers this year related to family and relationship problems; depression and mental health issues; loneliness and stress or anxiety -- similar problems to last year.

 

Irish Independent

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