Sky Ireland Joins Telecommunications Industry Partnership Supporting Samaritans Free To Caller Number

Calls to the helpline have increased by 50% since the launch of free to caller number

Samaritans, Ireland’s suicide reduction charity has welcomed the addition of Sky Ireland to the industry partnership supporting the charity’s helpline and looks forward to engaging with the Telecom and Internet Federation in continuing to develop this important partnership so that the charity’s helpline remains free to caller.

The announcement that Sky Ireland will be joining BT Ireland, eircom/Meteor, Three, UPC and Vodafone Ireland was made at a hearing of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications where Samaritans and the telecommunications industry delivered updates on the operation of Samaritans’ free to caller number.

Samaritans launched its free to caller number- 116 123- in March 2014. The number is part of an EU-wide initiative where numbers beginning with 116 are designated for services of extreme social value that are common across all EU member states. The number 116 123 has been given for all 24 hour emotional support helplines. ComReg awarded Samaritans the 116 123 number as it was the only organisation in Ireland already meeting and exceeding all of the minimum standards for these services, most notably with its 24 hours a day coverage.

A requirement of 116 numbers is that they must be free to caller. A partnership with the telecommunications industry, where the five largest telecommunications providers committed to a two-year funding programme for the number, made it possible for Samaritans to operate the number at no cost to callers.

Samaritans told the Oireachtas committee that calls to its helpline have increased by 50 per cent since the free to caller number was introduced. The charity answered over half a million calls on the number in the 12 months since it was launched and firmly believes that removing the barrier of cost has encouraged more people to call Samaritans.

Catherine Brogan, Executive Director with Samaritans Ireland, said:

“The continued support of the telecommunications industry makes it possible for Samaritans to be there for anyone who is in distress, round the clock, 365 days a year at no cost to the caller. We believe that it is now easier for people, particularly those at increased risk of suicide, such as disadvantaged groups and young men, to call us.

Our helpline is busier than ever before and our partnership with the industry has allowed us to concentrate on responding to this increase in demand, making sure that we are here for anyone who needs us. We look forward to developing this partnership so that we can continue to be there for anyone who needs us.”

July marks #TalkToUs, Samaritans annual awareness month which aims to let people know that they can contact the charity to talk about whatever is getting to them. Research findings released by the charity last week show that 1 in 3 of us (30.7%) can feel overwhelmed by our problems, but 2 in 5 (40.9%) of us don’t want to burden others with our problems and 1 in 4 (26.5 %) of people in the Republic of Ireland feels they don’t have anyone to share their troubles with.*

Catherine Brogan continued: “Our Talk to Us research shows that many of us find it difficult to talk about our problems. 1 in 4 people in Ireland say they have nobody to talk to about their problems and it is important that those people know that they can talk to Samaritans without worrying about the cost of a call.”

-ENDS-

 

Notes to editors:

*Samaritans answered 505,094 calls in the 12 month period since the launch of its free to caller number in March 2014

**Samaritans’ #TalkToUs 2015 online survey was carried out between 27 May & 2 June 2015. A sample of 313 adults was surveyed. A summary is available on www.samaritans.ie .

  • In 2007, the European Commission decided to reserve numbers beginning with 116 for services of extreme social value that would be common across all EU member states. The number 116123 has been given for all 24 hour emotional support helplines and is joined by other 116 numbers allocated to services supporting missing children or victims of crime.
  • Samaritans Ireland is available round the clock, every single day of the year.