UP TO 70 calls were received by the Samaritans in Limerick each day of the Christmas season, with calls set to spike again around the New Year.
Emigration is becoming a feature of calls once again as parents bid farewell to children returning overseas. In 2011 calls which came through to their Limerick branch, which is supported by 145 volunteers, increased by 9% to nearly 41,000.
Up to 60 calls are received by the local branch each day, who wish to highlight that their staff are just a phone call away for anyone who needs support over the holiday season.
Of the 40,875 calls to the Limerick branch this year, one in eight callers relayed worries to the current financial climate.
The busiest times of the week are Saturday night and Sunday, as well as Bank Holidays in general, with a majority of the callers aged in their 50s, although volunteers don’t ask callers their age.
People in their 20s and 30s also call the Samaritans, but local volunteer Dermot Troy questions who do people within that wide age bracket turn to.
He said the number of emails is also increasing, and in 2012 they hope to increase their availability through text messaging and raise their profile on Twitter. Their presence on the social networking site Facebook has also grown dramatically, with over 12,000 ‘likes’.
But regardless of the method of communication, Mr Troy said it is human contact which is most important, as some people who call haven’t spoken to anyone in a full week.
“Loneliness is massive, especially at Christmas time and on Valentine’s Day. There then are issues of isolation, fathers being separated from their kids, or issues with alcohol or domestic abuse, bereavement...whatever it is about this time of year it’s always busy,” he said.