Samaritans expects rise in call numbers over Christmas period

Charity took 190 calls a day about issues such as depression, loneliness during 2013 festive period

Mental health charity Samaritans is expecting an increase on the 190 calls it dealt with every day throughout the Christmas period last year. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

Mental health charity Samaritans is expecting an increase on the 190 calls it dealt with every day throughout the Christmas period last year. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh/The Irish Times.

 

Mental health charity Samaritans is expecting an increase on the 190 calls it dealt with every day throughout the Christmas period last year.

As part of its festive fundraising measures, the organisation will be hosting a Christmas carol session on Grafton Street in Dublin which will be attended by singers Mary Coughlan and Dickie Rock, as well as the Garda Male Choir.

Brendan Gallagher, the organisation’s Dublin director, said the holiday season can be a particularly anxious time for those who may be dealing with stress or mental health difficulties.

“The issues people call about over Christmas are similar to the rest of the year - loneliness, family and relationship problems, financial worries, depression and mental health, stress and anxiety,” said Mr Gallagher.

“For some people, Christmas can emphasise suicidal feelings, loneliness and depression. Last year, an average of 190 calls per day was received during the Christmas period and we expect this to increase this year because of the free phone number.”

Its annual report released earlier this week illustrated the huge demand for the Samaritans helpline service, with nearly half a million calls received throughout the year.

The availability of a freephone service has acted as an incentive for potential callers, with a 52 per cent increase in calls recorded after it was introduced in March.