Press release: Samaritans' survey shows public are far less worried about politics

People in the UK are far less concerned about domestic politics and international affairs than they have been at any time in the last four years, according to Samaritans’ annual worries survey 2012.

An exclusive YouGov poll for Samaritans shows that only 19 per cent of respondents were most worried about domestic politics or the current government, compared with 29 per cent a year ago. A mere 16 per cent had similar concerns about world affairs, an even larger fall from 27 per cent in December 2011. These issues have dropped out of the top five worries for the first time since Samaritans began running this survey in 2009.

The poll of more than 2,000 people was conducted on Wednesday 28 November, the day before the Leveson report was published and the vote on Palestine was taken at the United Nations – regarded by the media as two of the biggest stories of the year.

Worries over money, debt and bank balance topped the poll again, but those placing financial concerns at the head of the list fell slightly from 50 per cent in 2011 to 49 per cent this year. This figure ties in with the number of calls received by Samaritans’ helpline about financial stress, which have fallen from one in five calls in 2011 to one in six calls this year*.

There has been a corresponding fall in the findings for those most worried about mortgages and housing issues, down to 14 per cent from 16 per cent in 2011 and worries about job security have fallen from 25 to 24 per cent.

This slight lessening of worries over money was further confirmed by the finding that 22 per cent per cent of respondents thought that 2012 was a good year or the best year ever, compared with only 16 per cent who thought the same thing in 2011.

There has also been a significant rise in the numbers of people who are hopeful that their financial situation will improve during the next year, up a full 10 per cent from 31 per cent in 2011 to 41 per cent today.

However, years of worry over money and debt seems to have taken a toll on the nation’s concerns about problems with families, friends and relationships. Worries in this area have risen from 33 per cent in 2011 to 38 per cent today. There has also been a rise in expressed concerns over physical health, up from 32 per cent a year ago to 35 per cent now.

A new question, asking how people deal with their worries, found that only 37 per cent of those who had worries in 2012, chose to talk about their problems and 29 per cent preferred just to “grin and bear it”, while 26 per cent would have a social drink.

Men were more likely to engage in social drinking (29 per cent compared to 24 per cent of females) with 37 per cent of employed C2DE men aged 30-59, compared with 30 per cent for otherwise similar ABC1 men.  

Samaritans has recently launched We’re in your Corner, a campaign aimed at men in their 30s, 40s, and 50s from the lower socio-economic groups who are at higher risk of suicide: We're in your Corner

Catherine Johnstone, Samaritans Chief Executive said:

The slight lessening of worries about money is positive, however, it’s clear that people are becoming more concerned about family issues. As the nation’s listening ear, we’d like to remind people struggling to cope, that Samaritans will continue to be there for anybody who needs someone to listen to them.

We know from our work that middle aged men, from disadvantaged groups, are at higher risk of suicide, which is why Samaritans is making a special effort to reach out to them. With this in mind, it’s a real concern to see that so many men are doing nothing to deal with their worries or are relying on social drinking.

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For further information about the survey or to set up interviews please contact Guy Roberts in Samaritans’ press office, on 020 8394 8348 or email

Notes to editors:

*These figures are based on a survey of calls to six Samaritans’ branches received during a week from 5th November – 11th November 2012. This survey has been done annually since 2008.

YouGov survey results from 2009 – 2012 are as follows:

  Money/bank balance/debt: Mortgage/ rent/housing: Job security/ redundancy:                    
2009 48% 16% 24%
2010 53% 17% 26%
2011 50% 16% 25%
2012 49% 14% 24%
  Domestic politics/ current government: World affairs:  
2009 24% 23%  
2010 28% 26%  
2011 29% 27%  
2012 19% 16%  
  Issues with family, friends and relationships Physical health:  
2009 35% 32%  
2010 30% 32%  
2011 33% 32%  
2012 38% 35%  


















Read a further breakdown of results of the Samaritans worries survey 2012

  • All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2162 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 28th and 30th November 2012. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+).
  • A similar survey was also conducted in 2011. Total sample size was 2146 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 29th November and 1st December 2011.  The survey was carried out online. The figures were weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+). Similar surveys took place in 2009 and 2010.
  • Samaritans is part of Call to Action, a network of 50 organisations dedicated to preventing suicide.
  • Samaritans’ vision is that fewer people die by suicide. People contact Samaritans when they are struggling to cope and need someone to talk to. More than 20,000 Samaritans’ volunteers are available round the clock, every day of the year. The helpline provides a safe place to talk and all conversations are private.