Brexit: In or out, Samaritans votes for action on suicide prevention and investment in mental health

Ruth Sutherland 

Here I share my journey at Samaritans, keeping you informed of the important work of our staff and volunteers, challenging perceptions and asking tough questions.

I welcome all your views and questions so please do leave your comments below.

You can also find me tweeting: @SamaritansRuth

Our Identity and sense of belonging are central to our mental health. Feeling uncertain or insecure can increase anxiety. Whatever your perspective or position, all of these fundamentals have had a shock this week - whether reluctantly or happily, and now nobody knows where they are.

Is it a brave new world or a frightening unchartered territory, without a map to navigate with? At the moment, none of us is quite sure what to do next, or what the future is going to look like.

What we know at Samaritans is that we must continue to gear up to be there when people need a confidential non-judgemental space to be actively listened to.   

We cannot afford any delay or distraction on pressing issues, which includes suicide prevention and implementing long-awaited mental health policy. Money now needed to shore up our currency could have made a sizeable impact in suicide prevention and mental health promotion.

If entering a period of financial instability and uncertainty results in recession and economic pressures, Samaritans anticipates both a rise in people contacting us and a further rise in suicide rates - we know that rates track economic austerity. 

At Samaritans, many of the people who contact us are going through turmoil which makes it hard for them to see the road ahead. They don’t know what their life looks like anymore, because an important relationship has broken down, or they are struggling with debt, work pressures,  job insecurity  or they are so lonely they feel their world is falling or has fallen apart.The future suddenly doesn’t look like they thought it would. 

Human beings need a sense of identity and belonging to feel secure, and change can be a huge challenge. Especially if you haven’t chosen it, and sometimes even if you have.

When there is a crisis, either a personal one or something bigger, self-esteem can take a big hit. People can feel they don’t count and even that others would be better off if they were not there, which can be the beginning of a downward spiral.

They can shut down and get lost in the feelings of despair that uncertainty can create, and lose the ability to find a way through whatever situation they are struggling with. The right support can be life-saving.

What is often apparent to our volunteers is that when people make the space to think about their situation and talk it through, with a listener who isn’t judging and will keep the conversation private, they can start to see a way forward for themselves.

Samaritans, and other organisations like us, are here to provide  emotional support - round the clock.  On the basis of all the voices we hear, we will continue to work on key themes to influence and secure beneficial policy changes so that fewer people die by suicide. Amidst all the uncertainty one thing is certain -Samaritans is here. Our priorities won’t alter, we will continue to do all we can to make sure suicide prevention a priority and be there for people when they need us most.

  • Anyone can call Samaritans, you don’t have to be suicidal. Whatever you’re going through, call us for free any time from any phone on 116 123 (this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill), email, or visit to find details of your nearest branch.