It has marked 60 years since the first help call was taken in Guernsey. The UK charity was set up in 1953, aiming to reduce the number of people who die by suicide, and offer help to anyone struggling to cope.
The Guernsey branch was set up 10 years later, and currently has 30 volunteers providing 24-hour emotional support for islanders by phone or email.
Samaritans chief executive Julie Bentley said the charity gives people the opportunity to talk freely.
‘Samaritans are entirely about listening, we’re not here to give you advice, but to listen without judgment. Some people may never have had that space,’ she said. ‘Small talk saves lives.’
Guernsey Mind is a local mental health charity that offers support to those who may be struggling.
Its services include signposting and mental health first aid courses, which teaches people how to spot the signs and symptoms of ill mental health and provide help.
The charity runs refresher, one-day and two-day courses and has worked with local businesses.
Guernsey Mind chief executive and Samaritans volunteer Jo Cottell said taking a proactive approach to the mental health of those around you can often save lives.
‘We should see warning signs as an invitation to talk, let’s take some time for each other. It might only take five minutes but it can make all the difference,’ she said.
Talking Benches was set up in 2021 by three mothers, who all lost their sons to suicide, as a sign that those who sit on them are willing to listen.
Founding member Sarah Bamford said people should not be afraid to reach out.
‘The second time someone says they are not OK, you should stop and do something like grab a coffee. It’s about being aware.’
All calls to Samaritans are anonymous.
Anyone wishing to support the charity can go to the Samaritans website for more information.
Ms Bentley described how important volunteers are.
‘They are extraordinary people who volunteer, they bring a huge degree of passion. They are always there at any time.’
. The Guernsey Samaritans website is available at www.samaritans.org/branches/guernsey/
Up to 7,000 seek help
AS MANY as 7,000 islanders are helped every year by Samaritans.
Samaritans as an organisation take 10,000 calls every day.
One in five of these calls are exclusively from people who are feeling suicidal.
In 2021, nearly 30% of Guernsey’s population reported suffering from mental health problems.