A total of 32,786 calls were answered by the Athlone Midlands Samaritans in the past 12 months.
The majority of contacts were made via phone, with 32,064 phone calls recorded in the past year. In addition, 413 people contacted the service by email, there were 266 text messages, and 43 people made face-to-face visits to local branches.
The figure overall represents an 18 per cent increase on the previous year, when a total of 27,766 calls were recorded.
The figures were published in the 2015-2016 Impact Report, launched this week. Nationally, the report revealed that more than 639,652 calls for help were answered by volunteers across Ireland in the last year.
The vast majority of calls to the the Samaritans’ national helpline were received 'out of hours', between 6pm and 6am.
Director of the Athlone branch, Pierce Murphy, said: "We know that people don’t just struggle to cope between the hours of 9 to 5. The statistics show many calls come through to the service throughout the evening and early morning hours, a time that can be lonely and isolating for those experiencing feelings of distress. Samaritans are the only organisation whose volunteers are available round the clock, providing a beacon of light to those struggling during the loneliest hours."
The issues which people contact Samaritans about have remained consistent, and include family and relationship problems; financial worries; depression and mental health problems; loneliness; and stress and anxiety.
"People who are struggling often feel isolated and alone. They may want to talk about their suicidal feelings but don’t know where to turn, or fear that they may be judged. Over 450 people in Ireland take their lives each year. Many of those people may feel like they don’t have anywhere to seek support. Our volunteers work hard to provide a space for people in crisis when there may be nowhere else to turn," added Pierce.
The Athlone and Midlands branch of the Samaritans are always looking for new volunteers; anyone who is interested in becoming involved can find out more by contacting (085 ) 284 5010 or [email protected].
Samaritans volunteers are available round the clock for anyone who feels they need to talk, in confidence, about whatever’s getting to them – on Christmas Day, Stephen's Day, New Year's Day, and every other day of the year.
Samaritans can be contacted at 116 123 freefone or email [email protected].