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Samaritans volunteers in Ireland answered a call for help every minute in 2020
Coronavirus has undoubtedly been the most serious challenge Samaritans has faced in our 60 years in Ireland, but we know we are needed now more than ever
Niall Mulligan, Executive Director, Samaritans Ireland
Samaritans volunteers in Ireland answered a call for help every 56 seconds throughout 2020, annual figures show.
The Samaritans Ireland Impact Report 2020 was launched ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day (WSPD), which takes place this Friday 10 September.
Niall Mulligan, Executive Director for Samaritans Ireland, said the Samaritans service was a vital link for those in need of support with volunteers listening for more than 100,000 hours during the year.
“Coronavirus has undoubtedly been the most serious challenge Samaritans has faced in our 60 years in Ireland, but we know we are needed now more than ever,” Niall said.
“Not only was it very difficult for our callers, but also for our volunteers, and it was their resilience and spirit ensure we were there when needed most.
“While loneliness and isolation remained along the top reasons why people called, we also supported those with a mental health crisis, with family or relationship issues, job or financial insecurity, bereavement and anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic.
“Every single Samaritan volunteer, staff member, fundraiser, partner and supporter in Ireland played a role in keeping our services running and allowed us to continue working towards our vision that fewer people die by suicide.
“Each of them should be proud of what they personally contributed when most needed.”
Key highlights from 2020 showed the true impact of Samaritans volunteers nationwide:
- 2,300 volunteers (ROI & NI) answered a call for help every 56 seconds
- Over 560,000 calls and emails were answered
- Listened for over 100,000 hours
- Remained open 24/7 despite 40% of volunteers cocooning at one stage
- Extended its helpline into Irish diaspora living in Australia and Canada
- Celebrated 50 years of service in Dublin
After a hugely challenging 18 months, Samaritans is also encouraging people to talk to each other and share the things in life that give them hope on WSPD, in line with this year’s theme Creating Hope Through Action.
With the long-term effects of the pandemic likely to be felt for several years, sharing ways of remaining hopeful could support anyone struggling to cope and be an important reminder that suicidal thoughts are not permanent.
Spending time in nature, exercising, baking, listening to music, and drawing are just a handful of examples that can help boost people’s mood, among plenty of other actions.
To help inspire people, Samaritans have created several new resources including suggested activities, useful tips, and a mood-boosting playlist.
Rory Fitzgerald, Regional Director for Samaritans (RoI), added: “The pandemic’s challenges are continuing and won’t immediately ease off with restrictions lifting. Therefore, it’s vitally important we do everything we can to help anyone who needs support.
“Taking the time to enjoy your favourite activities, whatever they are – something easy and every day, or something more strenuous or creative – can be great ways to spread hope and look after your mental wellbeing. You don’t have to be an expert to make a difference, and potentially save someone’s life.
“Please remember if you or anyone you know needs emotional support you can contact Samaritans, for free, 24 hours a day, seven days a week on 116 123, email [email protected] or visit www.samaritans.ie.”
For further information or to arrange an interview please contact Sarah Stack, Communications & Policy Manager, Samaritans Ireland, on [email protected]
Notes to editor
Anyone can contact Samaritans FREE any time from any phone on 116 123, even a mobile without credit. This number won’t show up on your phone bill. Or you email [email protected] or visit www.samaritans.ie