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Minister White commends telecommunications industry partnership with Samaritans

Minister for Communications, Energy & Natural Resources, Alex White, has noted the success of the partnership between the telecommunications industry and Samaritans working together to provide a free to caller helpline for people in distress. The Minister welcomed confirmation that discussions are underway regarding extension beyond the two year launch agreement.

Speaking in response to updates on the operation of the helpline given by Samaritans and the Telecommunications Internet Federation to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications yesterday, Minister White said:

"We all have a role to play in suicide prevention and the telecommunications sector should be proud of the contribution it is making. The assistance of the industry in ensuring that the cost of calls is free of charge to the end user, together with the dedication of Samaritans volunteers across the country means that support is available to anyone who needs it."

The helpline is part of an EU-wide initiative where numbers beginning with 116 are designated for services of social value that are common across all EU member states. The number 116 123 has been given for all 24 hour emotional support helplines and was assigned to Samaritans by ComReg.

A partnership with the telecommunications industry, where the largest telecommunications providers committed to a two-year funding programme for the number, made it possible for Samaritans to operate the number at no cost to callers. Samaritans launched the number in March 2014 and answered over half in a million calls for help in the following 12 months.

The free to caller helpline is supported by BT Ireland, eircom/Meteor, Three, UPC and Vodafone Ireland and now Sky Ireland who have recently joined the partnership.

ENDS

Notes to Editors

Helpline information is as follows:

24 Hour Telephone Helplines:
116 123 (ROI)
08457 90 90 90 (NI)


24 Hour Email Helpline

jo@samaritans.org

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