Women destressed on her phone

20 Jul 2023

The Big Listen

Why is 24/7 an important date? 24/7 is Samaritans Awareness Day. Samaritans identify with this date because they’re here to listen 24/7.

Samaritans in the UK and Republic of Ireland host suicide awareness raising events around 24th July each year. Their aim is to publicise their round the clock phone line to people who are struggling with their mental health, nationwide.

The work that Samaritans do is crucial. More than 6,000 people across the UK and Ireland take their own lives each year, and Samaritans play a key role in raising suicide awareness.


So how common are mental health difficulties?

One in four will experience a mental health difficulty each year in England. More than 1 in 20 people will make a suicide attempt at one point in their lives. And many more will contemplate suicide.

If in crisis, knowing that organisations like Samaritans are waiting for your call can prevent people from acting on suicidal plans and pick up the phone to seek support instead.

With these figures in mind, the chances are that you or someone you know has been affected by suicide either directly or indirectly. Therefore, it has never been more important to know how to help yourself and how to help others.


So why is it named “The Big Listen”?

Samaritans encourage people in crisis to get in touch because often just having a conversation and feeling heard and listened to can alleviate some distress, even if nothing is resolved. Better still, talking about what’s bothering you can give you a new perspective on your situation or help you to see things differently.

Talking to the Samaritans or someone you know and trust can be the first step in the right direction to start taking action and feeling better.


Have you been feeling distressed recently?

Maybe you have been in crisis before or wondered if you should talk to someone and how you can take the next step. Keeping the theme of “The Big Listen” in mind, seeking support for your mental health in the form of talking therapy could help.

Psychological therapies have a robust evidence base to suggest clinical effectiveness; this means most people who receive evidence-based treatments report reduction in their symptoms and increased ability to function in their lives (APA, 2016).

There are many kinds of talking therapies but only those with a strong evidence base such as cognitive behavioural therapy are available through Employee Assistance Programmes (EAPs) or your GP.

Taking the first step can be daunting, so if you’re unsure, view it as a nothing-to-lose approach.


Are you feeling OK, but you’re worried about someone else?

Census-wide carried out a recent study in early 2023 which revealed that only 50% of UK adults said they would feel confident approaching someone they didn’t know if they had concerns about them in public, despite there being no evidence to suggest that asking someone if they are OK will make them feel worse.

This inspired the Campaign for Small Talk Saves Lives, backed by Gail Porter and Channique Sterling-Brown on the basis that interrupting someone’s suicidal thoughts can steer them in the right direction.

Maybe you’ve noticed explicit or more subtle changes in a friend or family member recently. We’re all used to asking, “How are you?”, but asking, “How has your mood been recently?” can encourage the person to talk about what’s bothering them.


So how can I take the next steps?

Whether this article has been relevant for you or for someone on your mind, you’ll find the contacts of useful services below.

Start by talking to a trusted friend, family member or health professional. Having the numbers to hand could be a life saver.