Suicide prevention charity ‘contacted every two minutes’ over last year

Suicide prevention charity Samaritans was contacted by people in distress or crisis at a rate of every two minutes last year, figures suggest.

According to statistics published by the charity, volunteers were contacted around 249,000 times in total in 2018, providing over 60,000 hours of emotional support by phone, email or text.

Just under a third of callers expressed suicidal thoughts and feelings, the analysis suggests.

The charity has more than 750 volunteers in Scotland who provide a 24-hour listening service, offering emotional support to anyone in crisis or distress across the UK and the Republic of Ireland.

According to Samartians, reasons for people contacting them include feelings of loneliness or isolation, worries about family or relationships, or problems with physical or mental health.

James Jopling, of Samaritans Scotland, said the figures highlight the services of the charity are needed now more than ever.

He said: “Our volunteers are ordinary people who give up their time to do something extraordinary.

“Their contribution means Samaritans can be there for people when they need us most, giving callers a space where they can talk openly and honestly about whatever it is they’re struggling with.

“These figures show our service is just as relevant and necessary today as it was when Samaritans first began more than six decades ago.

“But we need more volunteers to keep up with this demand and ensure we can be continuing being there, whenever and wherever we’re needed in the years ahead.”

Mental Health Minister Clare Haughey said: “It’s remarkable that volunteers across Scotland have given up more than 60,000 hours of their time to be there for people who are struggling and may not have anyone else they feel they can turn to.

“Services like Samaritans play a vital role in promoting emotional well-being and reducing suicide by providing a listening ear, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.”

Samaritans Scotland volunteers also held more than 600 talks and events last year with schools, colleges, youth groups, food banks, prisons, local services and employers to raise awareness of Samaritans’ service and to promote mental well-being in communities across the country.

In June, the charity will celebrate the 60th anniversary of the first call taken in Scotland.

The charity aims to recruit at least 200 new volunteers this year to ensure Samaritans continue to be there for people in crisis and distress and work to reduce suicide in Scotland.

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