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Wednesday, 15 December, 1999, 12:06 GMT
Samaritans target Christmas drinkers

man watching fireworks Not everyone will be having a good time

The Samaritans are hitting pubs across the country as part of a campaign to cut desperate loneliness over the millennium holiday.

The Millennium Survival Guide for young people, 2000MUCH?, was launched at London's oldest pub, The Hoop and Grapes, by its author, FHM agony aunt Susan Quilliam.

Samaritans festive facts
Calls rise by an average of 8% between Christmas and the New Year
Family and relationship conflict are common experiences for young people during the New Year period
Two young people commit suicide every day - 80% of these are young men
About 124,000 calls were made to the Samaritans from people in crisis between 26 December 1998 and 1 Jan 1999
The organisation predicts that many people - particularly young people - will feel left out, lonely and vulnerable.

And they say that people already suffering from depression, or having problems, will feel even worse, because they will believe that they are the only ones not having a good time.

Posters giving contact details for the Samaritans are to be placed in pubs.

Spokeswoman Emma Sharvet said that calls to the confidential phone service traditionally increased over the Christmas holiday and New Year.

The organisation is expecting 18,000 distressed calls on Millennium night. It reports that in recent months January has seen the highest number of suicides.

'You're not alone'

Ms Sharvet added: "This year, however, the pressure is going to be on young people to have the best party of their lives, and for many people that really isn't going to happen.

"If people are experiencing difficulties - maybe their relationship has broken up or they have family problems or other worries, it will be awful thinking that you are the only person not having a good time.

"We really want people to realise that they're not alone - the New Year is going to be a tough time for a lot of people, and there is always someone to listen at the other end of the phone."

She said that feelings of isolation may be exacerbated this extended festive holiday because many services, such as GPs and health centres, may be shut for longer.

But the Samaritans will be manning phones 24 hours a day.

The Samaritans can be contacted 365 days a year on 0345 90 90 90, or by email via their website (see link).

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See also:
19 Oct 99 |  Health
Lad culture blamed for suicides
15 Dec 99 |  UK
Surviving Christmas family hell
22 Nov 99 |  UK
Fatigue threatens millennium parties
02 Nov 99 |  Scotland
Suicide risk of Highland men

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