One in three people who pick up the phone to call Samaritans disclose they are lonely or feel isolated, according to new research* released today.
Samaritans Ireland has found loneliness or isolation is a major issue for both young and old across the country, with it cited in as many as 65,000 calls to its helpline between January and July this year.
Samaritans volunteers will again attend the National Ploughing Championships in Tullamore, Co Offaly, this week to meet members of the rural community, raise awareness of the supports the organisation offers, and listen to anyone who may be in need of emotional support.
Cindy O’Shea, Lead Volunteer and Regional Director for Ireland, said it is important for people in rural Ireland to realise they can pick up the phone day or night and hear a caring voice.
“Loneliness, isolation, stress and depression are among the issues which affect rural communities and farmers. This year the fodder crisis and the long-term effects of the adverse weather conditions, from our spring snow to the summer drought, has had a greater impact on the lives and livelihoods of many people. Anecdotally, we know that this particular issue has prompted farmers to contact us.”
Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by phone, text or email offering a safe supportive space for anyone to talk about what is getting to them.
Volunteers from Athlone, Newbridge, Ennis, Drogheda and Festival branches will also be at the Samaritans Ireland stand in the Health and Wellness exhibition arena (Block 2; Row 29) at the National Ploughing Championships this Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, as well as mingling with the crowds across the site.
IFA Farm Family Chair, Caroline Farrell, said the challenges for farmers this year have been unprecedented, particularly due to the extreme weather events which added significantly to their workload and costs.
She said: “We are always encouraging farmers to seek out support if they find the pressure becomes too much. The work done by the Samaritans is invaluable in providing time for farmers to talk to somebody about what is troubling them. Their service is an important resource for those farmers who may be isolated and who don’t have back up."
Samaritans also delivers talks and training to clubs, associations and schools to raise awareness of its service and encourage people to talk to us and listen to each other.
Liz Chaloner, Interim Executive Director with Samaritans Ireland said: “We want people to know that Samaritans are here around the clock for anyone in need and that they don’t need to be suicidal to call us. So many people who reach out are lonely, depressed, stressed, anxious or have suffered a relationship, financial or job loss. Talking can be the best way of getting through a difficult time. If you feel like you are not coping or that you are alone with your difficult thoughts and feelings, it is important to get help. If you need to talk, Samaritans volunteers are here to listen. Call us on freephone 116 123, text 087 260 9090 or email [email protected]”