Confidentiality

We want you to feel safe while talking to us, so you can tell us how you’re really feeling.

That’s why we’re confidential. You don’t even have to tell us your name.

Keeping what you say between us

We won’t share what you say, or any personal or contact details, with anyone. The exceptions to this are listed below.

Keeping things private at your end

We understand you might want to keep the fact you’ve contacted us to yourself. If this is the case, you might like to know that:

  • if we email you, the word ‘Samaritans’ will show in the title. For email, you might prefer to create an address specifically for writing to us, so our replies stay private
  • if we text, our number will appear on your mobile, under the name you have used to save our contact details
  • if you text us, our number will show on your itemised bill
  • if you come and see us in a branch, we’ll talk to you in a private roomspace
  • if you write to us, we will reply to the name and address you have provided to us
  • if you live near your local branch, we won’t say anything to you in the street if we pass you, unless you choose to talk to us

No names needed

We know that talking to someone you don't know can sometimes feel easier than talking to someone you do know, because you don't have to worry about their feelings or what they might think about you. We might ask your name, because it’s a natural question to ask in a conversation, or because of something you have said to us, but you don’t have to tell us if you prefer not to.

We don’t know your contact details

Our service is designed so that we don’t see your phone number or email address when you contact us. We’ll only know your contact details is if you give them to us.

What we do keep

We do share some information within Samaritans, because we work as a team to provide you with the best possible support.

If you continue calling us for some time, we may keep information you’ve given us so we know it’s you when you call again, so we’re up to date with your situation.

We record some statistical information, to report on and improve our service. This includes information such as gender, and how distressed you were. This information never reports about specific people.

We also record some information to comply with the exceptions to our confidentiality below.

Exceptions to confidentiality

The only times we break confidentiality are if:

  • we have agreement from you to pass on information to someone else
  • we receive a court order requiring us to share information or are required to do so by nation-specific legislation
  • we receive information about acts of terrorism, bomb warnings, or threats to life*
  • we call an ambulance because at that time you appear to be unable to make decisions for yourself or become unconscious and you have told us where you are
  • after discussion with you, we may contact other relevant services if you share information (such as phone number or location) which identifies a child or vulnerable adult who is at risk of serious harm
  • you threaten the safety of our volunteers or the delivery of our service, for example by making it difficult for other people to get hold of us.

You can find more information on our exceptions to confidentiality here.

*This is a specific arrangement with branches in Northern Ireland

Samaritans maintains confidentiality even after the death of a caller unless required to report under one of the conditions listed above.