The Samaritans snapshot survey of callers to its Dublin office in the last week of November revealed 528 people called the number, with 20.4% discussing financial concerns — 3% higher than the equivalent figure in the same survey conducted a year before.
A similar survey was conducted across four Samaritans offices in the UK over the same week, but none had as high a proportion of callers citing financial stresses as the reason for making contact. Across the five offices where callers were surveyed, 13.8% mentioned financial strain — meaning the Irish office figure was well above the average.
One third of callers to the Dublin office said they felt lonely and isolated, while the number of callers who expressed concerns over employment rose slightly, up to 5.6% compared with 5% in November 2013.
Rachel Wright, a Samaritans Ireland spokeswoman, said workers in the Dublin office were “surprised” that the number of callers giving financial worries as the reason for making contact was so high.
“We would have known anecdotally that this was a big issue, but we were surprised that it was quite so high,” she said, adding that it was impossible to know whether some of the other reasons given for calling Samaritans, such as loneliness, might not also be linked to financial concerns or unemployment.
However, she said the timing of the survey in advance of Christmas may also have been a factor in the reasons given by callers.
“There was a lot of discussion at the time regarding coming out of recession and people spending for Christmas,” she said. “If you were not experiencing that, that is going to compound your loneliness. We feel there are a lot of people still feeling the effects of the recession.”
Catherine Brogan, executive director for Samaritans Ireland, said: “It is important that people know that Samaritans are here round the clock to provide them with a space to talk about what they are going through.”
Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 and at www.samaritans.ie