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Samaritans' busiest year yet as over half a million seek help

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Pictured at the launch of the Samaritans awareness campaign " Talk To Us" were [ l to r ] Majella Canty Samaritans Ireland, Deirdre Breathnacht TG4, Brian Dobson 'RTE Six One News', Ger Gilroy Newstalk 'Off The Ball' and  Sarah Ryan Dublin Senior Camogie Team.

Pictured at the launch of the Samaritans awareness campaign " Talk To Us" were [ l to r ] Majella Canty Samaritans Ireland, Deirdre Breathnacht TG4, Brian Dobson 'RTE Six One News', Ger Gilroy Newstalk 'Off The Ball' and Sarah Ryan Dublin Senior Camogie Team.

Pictured at the launch of the Samaritans awareness campaign " Talk To Us" were [ l to r ] Majella Canty Samaritans Ireland, Deirdre Breathnacht TG4, Brian Dobson 'RTE Six One News', Ger Gilroy Newstalk 'Off The Ball' and Sarah Ryan Dublin Senior Camogie Team.

The Samaritans in Ireland has had its busiest year ever in 2014, responding to over half a million calls for help.

According to the charity group over 478,200 calls were made to the helpline, while almost 12,000 emails and 8,000 texts were answered by Samaritans volunteers.

There were also 8,700 face to face visits to Samaritans branches across the Republic.

"The figures show that there is a huge demand for our service and we are aware - from the nature of our calls - that many people in Ireland are struggling to cope," said Catherine Brogan, executive director of Samaritans Ireland.

"By making our service as accessible as possible, we hope to be there to support people through their problems," she added.

"This year, we removed a significant barrier with the launch of our new free to caller number, 116 123."

"A partnership between Samaritans, the telecommunications industry, Government and the National Office for Suicide Prevention (NOSP) has made it possible for people to talk to us round the clock at no cost to the caller," Ms Brogan explained.

"Since the launch of the number in March 2014, we've experienced a 52pc increase in the number of calls received compared with the same period in 2013."

DEpression

Around 70pc of callers now contact the Samaritans by mobile phone.

"The issues of most concern to our callers have remained consistent over the last number of years.

"These include family and relationship problems; financial worries; depression and mental health problems; loneliness; and stress and anxiety," said Ms Brogan.

"However, people can talk to us about whatever is getting to them. Some people think that you have to be suicidal to talk to Samaritans but that is not the case."

The 12 Samaritans branches across the country have also been working in partnership with organisations like the GAA and the HSE, to let more people know about the supports it provides.

Callers supported by Samaritans' helpline benefited from 63,659 hours of listening time by volunteers this year.

More than half of calls to the helpline are received between6pm and 6am.

The average length of phonecall this year was 12 minutes.

Samaritans is a volunteer-led organisation, with over 1,500 people in branches across the Republic, making Samaritans the longest serving organisation in the area of emotional support and suicide reduction in Ireland.

cfeehan@herald.ie


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