Samaritans suicide charity calls in five year high

Depressed man
Image caption One in six callers mentioned financial problems, the Samaritans in Wales said

Money worries are blamed as a key cause of suicidal feelings as the Samaritans in Wales report their highest number of calls for five years.

The charity said job security fears and benefit cuts pushed the number of people seeking help from its volunteers to more than 160,000 last year.

Text messages were up by 22% in 2013 with a 7% increase in emails answered.

Executive director for Wales Sarah Stone said the charity wanted to keep promoting the benefits of talking.

The call came as the Samaritans published its Impact Report for 2013/14, detailing the outreach work of the charity's nine branches in Wales.

Nearly 700 volunteers in Wales were involved a range of activities to tackle suicide, including:

  • Step by Step suicide response service for secondary schools, including an ongoing partnership with Newport council to respond to incidents
  • Railway suicide hotspots being identified with staff training and post-incident support to raise awareness
  • Prisoners encouraged to talk to fellow inmates in a peer-to-peer listening scheme

"Against a backdrop of difficult economic times and where a disproportionate number of those who take their lives are struggling with social and economic deprivation, we need to convince people that talking about what's troubling them is valuable and potentially life-saving," said Ms Stone.

"It is something we all need to do and encourage other people to do."

She added: "The demand for our service is increasing. We took a call every three minutes last year in Wales.

"It is important that we keep working to raise awareness of our service and the benefits of talking."

'Reach out'

While most help was given via phone, letter or face-to-face support, the Samaritans said contact via newer methods such as text and email was growing.

"We also need to keep evolving and finding new ways to reach out to people, continuing to be accessible to all who desperately need our service," said Ms Stone.

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Media captionExecutive director for Wales Sarah Stone said the charity wanted to keep promoting the benefits of talking

The Samaritans said the number of calls for help across the UK and Ireland also reached a five year high in 2013 of 5.23m.

Launching the report, Health Minister Mark Drakeford said: "I am grateful to Samaritans for its continued work in support of suicide prevention.

"It is a key partner and plays a vital role in delivering Talk to Me, the national action plan to reduce suicide and self-harm in Wales.

"We want people to feel able to support their friends, family members and colleagues who, for a variety of reasons, may be at risk of suicide.

"Ultimately, we as individuals, colleagues or friends, all have a responsibility to listen to and support those close to us."

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