Samaritans volunteers responded to over 5.7 million calls for help in 2016, an increase of nearly 300,000 on the previous year.
The Samaritans cite a number of reasons for the record high, including the launch of the free to call number in 2015 and the negative impacts of inequality. Suicide rates are two to three times higher in the UK’s most deprived areas compared to the most affluent, according to a statistic on the Samaritans website and findings in their new report Dying from Inequality.
‘Suicide is complex but it’s also an inequality issue, and a number of factors, including deprivation, can put you at increased risk,’ said Sarah Stone, Samaritans Executive Director for Wales. ‘Even 2p a minute was enough to deter some callers, which is why we were determined to make all calls to Samaritans free. These figures show our volunteers are making the difference by being there for increasing numbers of people, but we’re just one part of the equation.’
Dying from Inequality calls for better emotional support for people facing job insecurity, poor housing and unmanageable debt, and the charity is asking the public to demand that prospective MPs make suicide prevention a priority.
‘Disadvantage can aggravate life’s challenges and make people more vulnerable to suicidal thoughts,’ said Jenni McCartney, Samaritans Chair and volunteer. ‘If we all work together to address inequality, we will save lives.’
Words: Ellen White
You can donate to the Samaritans here. If you need to talk you can call the Samaritans free on 116 123, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. The figures have been released in conjunction with this month’s Volunteers’ Week.