The number of people calling Samaritans’ helpline has risen by 15 per cent since the charity launched its free helpline number, 116 123, in September 2015. This means around 5,000 more people are calling the helpline every month.
Samaritans, the UK’s leading suicide reduction charity, aims to make sure as many people as possible can access its support service.
Branch director Alison Smith, said: “We are delighted that more people are now able to contact us, every day of the year, no matter what you are going through, without having to pay call charges.
“We want to encourage more people in Cardiff to call us if they are going through a difficult time. Our volunteers are experts in listening and can help you talk through your concerns, worries and troubles. You don’t have to be suicidal to call us.”
This month, Samaritans are launching awareness-raising campaigns in ten pilot areas across the UK, with radio and poster advertising. The campaign will particularly target people in the lowest socio-economic groups, as there are known links between social deprivation and suicide.
Ruth Sutherland, Samaritans’ CEO, said: “Samaritans campaigned long and hard to make the helpline number free to callers. The subsequent increase in callers underlines the fact that some people found the cost of calls a barrier to accessing our service when they need us most. Our new campaign in Cardiff is about making sure that as many people as possible are aware that they can now call us for free, from any phone.”
The Big Lottery Fund supported the launch of Samaritans’ free helpline service and are providing funding for the new awareness-raising campaign in Cardiff.
Last year Samaritans’ 21,000 volunteers responded to 5.3 million calls for help, by phone, email, text and face to face.
Ruth Sutherland added: “Everyone has moments in their life where they struggle to cope and for some this can lead to feeling hopeless and losing sight of being able to work through their problems. “We know that talking can really help people to see a way through, and we would encourage anyone who is struggling to call Samaritans. We are here round the clock, every single day of the year, to listen and offer confidential support when things are getting to you.”
Samaritans’ new free helpline number is 116 123. Calls to this helpline number do not appear on phone bills.