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Samaritans takes three million calls in five years

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(Stock image)

(Stock image)

PA Archive/Press Association Images

(Stock image)

Samaritans volunteers in Ireland have answered almost three million calls for help over the last five years, new figures show.

Major reasons for contact include mental health problems, isolation and loneliness.

A freephone helpline has operated for five years.

"Samaritans has been supporting people in Ireland since 1961, but the introduction of freephone made a huge impact," said Samaritans Ireland regional director Cindy O'Shea.

"It is amazing that in that time volunteers have answered almost three million telephone calls, as well as given support to thousands more by text, email and face to face in branches, in communities, at festivals and in prisons."

Six major telecom providers - BT Ireland, Eir, Sky Ireland, Three Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland and Vodafone Ireland - have extended their partnership and agreed to support the helpline until 2024.

"We are thrilled that our largest telecommunications companies have shown their faith and confidence in us to continue delivering this service to their customers and others who need us in their darkest hours," added Ms O'Shea.

Over the last five years 2.9 million calls were answered.

A total of 110,000 individual callers made contact.

The busiest time was generally 6pm to midnight.

More than 500,000 calls were answered by Samaritans volunteers last year, with almost 46,000 text replies and 5,300 emails sent.

emotional

Some 4,000 people were given emotional support in a branch or at a festival.

Communications, Climate Action and Environment Minister Richard Bruton said: "I am delighted that all major telecom providers have agreed to continue to support the Samaritans and the vital work that they do.

"This agreement will mean there will be no cost barrier to anyone who may need to call the Samaritans."