We’re here to help: that’s the message that the Waterford branch of the Samaritans is keen to stress as unemployment across the city, county and region continues to rise.

Speaking exclusively to The Munster Express, Regional Director Anne Woodworth said that the recession and rising joblessness had been an increasing topic expressed to Samaritans over the phones.

“A lot of people who are in trouble now have never been in trouble before,” said Ms Woodworth, who became Regional Director three months ago.

“There’s a sort of feeling of failure among many people who find themselves in this situation, out of a job. And there’s a feeling of embarrassment with that too – who do you talk to? Who do tell you’ve been made redundant? How do you face up to that?”

She added: “I can remember hearing stories from the last recession about people getting up every day and pretending they were going to work, putting on a face.

“Again I remember a story about someone that I knew; it was a man who took his life. He had been pretending for something like four months that he had been going to work. Isn’t that desperate?

“He’d never said to his family that ‘look, I’ve got no job’. He must have been going off, I suppose, to sit in the park during his day or whatever. There are these expectations that we can’t be seen to fail.”

Anne Woodworth felt that the tragic spectre of suicide could be an unfortunate by-product of our economic decline.

“It’s hard to avoid that thought,” she added. “But the fact that the people are losing their jobs actually brings other problems to the fore; it may not be the underlying reason for having suicidal thoughts.

“But at every contact we talk to people about whether they feel suicidal or not and a lot of people come back to us with ‘well, not at the moment but I have done in the past’.

“A lot of people will say that they’ve had unsuccessful attempts, that they’ve cut themselves, that they’ve gone and stood on the riverbank and had the thought. Some of them are glad that they weren’t successful but some will not be. They wish they were gone.

“Black depression is such a desperate thing; you can’t see any reason for being alive, can’t see any reason why anyone would regret your not being there, which I think is terribly sad.”

The Samaritans, which has an office on Beau Street (open from 9am to 9pm), can be contacted at 1850-60-90-90, face to face at Beau Street or via email: jo@samaritans.org.  

“We’re here, we’re always here to answer and to listen,” according to Anne Woodworth “And whatever you want to talk about, we’re prepared to listen to.”