Three million phone calls made to Samaritans since 2014

Majority of calls to charity relate to mental health, isolation and family issues

Samaritans’ busiest time of day is from 6pm until midnight, with its busiest hour  from 8pm. Photograph: iStock

Samaritans’ busiest time of day is from 6pm until midnight, with its busiest hour from 8pm. Photograph: iStock

 

The mental-health support charity, Samaritans, answered almost three million calls in the last five years. Of these, almost 500,000 were from people expressing suicidal thoughts.

In a statement marking five years of their freephone helpline number – 116 123 – Samaritans said that between March 2014 and March 2019 its volunteers answered 2.9 million calls from 110,000 individual callers who were provided with 376,500 listening hours on the phone.

The main issues people contacted Samaritans about last year were mental health or illness (36.2 per cent), isolation and loneliness (30 per cent), family issues (28.5 per cent) and relationship problems (20.9 per cent).

Other callers were worried about physical health, illness, bereavement, violence, abuse, drug and/or alcohol misuse, and finances and unemployment.

Some 16.6 per cent of callers expressed suicidal thoughts in the past five years.

The busiest four days during the half decade were Saturday, June 27th, 2015 when volunteers received 2,334 calls; Monday, October 5th, 2015 (2,317 calls); Friday, 19th January, 2018 (2,292) and Tuesday, August 8th, 2017 (2,266).

The busiest time of day on average is between 6pm and midnight when 35 per cent of a day’s calls come in. The busiest hour is from 8pm.

The charity will on Monday announce private-sector funding for the helpline has been secured for a further five years as six telecoms providers have agreed to extend their support for the service until 2024.

“Coping with the aftermath of critical incidents has become a challenging but necessary task for a number of schools.” Photograph: iStock
The main issues people contacted Samaritans about last year were mental health or illness (36.2 per cent), isolation and loneliness (30 per cent), family issues (28.5 per cent) and relationship problems (20.9 per cent). File photograph: iStock

They are BT Ireland, Eir, Sky, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone.

Cindy O’Shea, Irish regional director, said: “Samaritans has been supporting people in Ireland since 1961, but the introduction of freephone made a huge impact.”

Jim Daly, minister for mental health and older people, described the freephone line as “a very valuable service to vulnerable people across the country” and he was “delighted” the organisation had secured the private sector funding for another five years.

Freephone Samaritans at 116 123.