Increase in calls over money worries

CALLS to The Samaritans about money worries have doubled since the onset of the financial crisis three years ago.

Local people are also more likely to be concerned about pressures at work than their counterparts in Great Britain, according to a new survey.

However, the primary cause of anxiety at this time of year tends to be a feeling of isolation, according to Alan Thompson, director of Ballymena Samaritans, who handle calls from the Larne area,

“Our volunteers have said that some of our callers tend to be socially isolated and the Christmas period can enhance their feelings of loneliness,” he explained.

“There can be an enormous amount of pressure to be happy during what is meant to be a time of celebration, even if individuals are in fact going through personal difficulties. ”

Locally, people are more than twice as likely to be worried about loneliness (23 per cent) than the UK average 11 per cent, but they also said their day is brightened by acts of kindness, such as someone listening to them (48 per cent), giving them a compliment (48 per cent) or a hug (43 per cent), smiling at them (37 per cent) and having time to chat (34 per cent).

The Samaritans say that, contrary to popular belief, studies have generally shown that there appears to be a lull in suicides during the Christmas period, by as much as 30 per cent, which may be due to the emphasis placed on togetherness that takes place at Christmas.

“However, there is an increase in suicide rates just after New Year, so if you feel the pressures of life getting to you, please contact Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 or e-mail jo@samaritans.org and a trained volunteer will be there to support you. Samaritans are available 24 hours a day,” they urged.