SAMARITANS in Somerset saw 4% more people contacting them last year, and more than half were women.

The Taunton and Somerset branch of the charity received almost 38,000 telephone calls, 1,800 emails and 2,200 text messages.

Of the people who contacted Samaritans, 52% were women and 5,000 callers expressed suicidal feelings – but the charity says fewer people die by suicide.

The Samaritans’ confidential service listens to people talk about anything that is getting them down. Only one in five people who call feel suicidal at the time.

Common topics include relationship and family problems, bereavement; financial worries; stress; loneliness; depression; disability, alcohol or drug issues; suicide attempts or self-harming.

Speaking after the branch’s AGM this month, director Ian Hawkins said: “The local outreach team gave talks to 28 groups, including 12 school talks to over 4,000 children, in addition to work with other charities, agencies and the NHS.

“In total, in 2013, branch volunteers gave up 15,600 hours of their time to help others, including emotional support provided to bring relief to those areas suffering from the recent floods.”

In his director’s report, Mr Hawkins shared with everyone the success the branch has had in recruiting volunteers this year, with listening and support volunteers totalling over 100 for the first time.

For details about volunteering call 08705 62 72 82, email or visit