Samaritan callers affected by isolation and loneliness in 2020
"Coronavirus has undoubtedly been the most serious challenge Samaritans has faced in our 60 years in Ireland."
Samaritans Ireland launched their 2020 impact report today ahead of World Suicide Prevention Day.
Their 2,300 volunteers answered 539,579 calls over the year, with an answered call for help every 56 seconds.
Loneliness and isolation remained the top reasons people called the helpline for support during the beginning of the pandemic. With the added stresses that came with the pandemic, so did people's reasons for calling.
"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," said Niall Mulligan, Executive Director of the charity.
The pandemic not only made life more difficult for those availing of the service but also for those who were providing it. During some of the most intense lockdowns, 40% of Samaritan volunteers were cocooning due to health reasons or their age.
With services in such high demand, Samaritans also set about providing new avenues for supporting people. They have piloted a webchat service in some Northern Ireland branches, as well as extended their services to Irish people living in Australia and Canada.
There is no doubt that this was a much-needed service for those who could not be at home at such an uncertain time.
With much of society set to re-open the lasting effects of the pandemic on people's mental health will still be around.
“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," said Rory Fitzgerald, Regional Director.
“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," said Niall.
You can read the full report here.
If you have been affected by the issues raised in this article or just need to talk to someone, you can reach the Samaritans on 116 123 at any time.