‘Humanity answered the phone that dark night’: Woman hails Samaritans helpline

‘Humanity Answered The Phone That Dark Night’: Woman Hails Samaritans Helpline
Distressed woman, © PA Wire/PA Images
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By Gráinne Ní Aodha, PA

A woman has spoken about the importance of a free mental health phoneline in helping her through “dark” nights.

Nicola Clare, 46, from Dublin, said she first contacted the Samaritans in 2009, and the charity “pulled me back from the edge”.


In February that year, she suffered a prolapse disc while training for the Dublin City Marathon, and had to stop working, socialising and travelling.

“My mood began to drop and that quickly escalated into a deep despair,” she recalled during an event in Dublin on Thursday.

“I found myself caught in this spiral of self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Everything felt so out of control, I lost all sense of myself. The shame that went with that was just horrendous.”



She said the idea of saying her thoughts out loud “felt beyond comprehension”, and so she sent an email to the Samaritans.

“The response was warm. The response was accepting. I wasn’t a monster, after all. The power of that was remarkable.”


Another reply to one of her emails while she was out for a walk “pulled me out of that trance for a second, it literally pulled me back from the edge in that moment”, she said.

Ms Clare recalled “one particularly dark night” when her mind was racing.

“It all gets very blurred in the middle of the night,” she said. “I remember one particularly dark night and I really couldn’t settle, tossing and turning, my head was going and going and going and I reached out and I grabbed the phone and I rang the Samaritans number.

“It was like almost somebody shifted a blackout blind, because humanity answered that phone and humanity had a soft, warm voice: ‘Hello, it’s Samaritans, how can I help?'”



In the 10 years that the freephone has been operating, more than five million calls have been made to it.

Six telecoms providers – BT Ireland, eir, Sky Ireland, Three Ireland, Virgin Media Ireland and Vodafone Ireland – which cover the cost of the calls, have extended the partnership with the helpline for another five years.

Barry, a Samaritans volunteer for 35 years, said helping people is “immensely satisfying”.

He added: “But I’d ask all of you to do one thing for the next few days, for the next few weeks: when somebody comes to you and starts talking about how they’re feeling about something very important, don’t immediately jump in there.

“Don’t immediately say, ‘I think you should do this’ or ‘Oh, you think you’re bad? I know a woman down the road is much worse to you’. I can absolutely assure you that you get more from this conversation, you get far more yourself from the conversation, if you just listen for a while without jumping in and giving them advice.

“I can guarantee you, your family, your colleagues, your constituents will feel more listened to. It’s just a very simple thing. Just maybe for the next few days, try that even if you never go on to become a volunteer.”

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