Scunthorpe Samaritans receive record number of calls from people in need
RECORD numbers of people contacted Scunthorpe Samaritans in the last year.
The group saw a nine per cent increase in calls in 2012 making it the busiest since the service launched in North Lincolnshire in 1962.
The record figures show that in 2012, the service received 17,958 calls and 4,371 e-mails.
Carol Purdy, a volunteer at the town's Samaritans, said she expects the number of calls to increase even more this year.
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The 52-year-old from Scunthorpe, who has been working at the Samaritans for just over two years, said: "I think this is just the tip of the iceberg.
"I think it will get a lot worse.
"I think redundancies are to blame, as this has a knock-on effect which leads to debt.
"People are looking for work, but there are no jobs out there."
A former caller, who wished to remain anonymous, said the service really helped her at a time when she did not know where to turn to.
She said: "Six years ago my husband was really depressed and I felt like I could not handle this.
"It was like a bottomless pit and it was too much to cope with.
"I rang the Samaritans a few times, but I would put the phone down when they said 'hello'.
"You think you are going to be judged.
"They really helped me and they asked if I had thought about taking my life.
"I thought about this and said 'no'.
"It helped me so much talking to them and the situation would have been very different if I was not able to talk to someone at that time."
Patrick Hall, a Scunthorpe Samaritans member, said the increase in calls may be due to the economic climate.
He said: "The increasing numbers may, in part, be attributed to the economic climate as call volumes have risen steadily year-on-year since the onset of the financial crisis in 2008.
"Around 18 per cent of telephone callers told us about suicidal thoughts or intentions. It is a worrying statistic and we know from our own research that men in middle age are particularly vulnerable and more must be done to reach out and support this particular group.
"However, we are encouraged that increasing numbers of people are turning to Samaritans for emotional support at an earlier stage when they are upset or low. This may be due to the work we are doing in raising awareness of our service and emotional health."
To contact the Samaritans – which operates 24 hours a day – call 01724 860000.