Published Tuesday, 08 November 2011
The first ever Branch in Ireland opened in Belfast on 1 November 1961 and the founding Branch has been open for business 24-hours a day ever since, except for a few short hours when the Centre suffered damage from a nearby bomb.
Samaritans is a key provider of emotional support and aims to benefit individuals and society by improving people's emotional health.
In 2010, volunteers in the eight branches in Northern Ireland dealt with 68,482 calls via the 24-hour telephone helpline, supported 156 individuals face-to-face at the North West 200 and replied to 9,526 emails.
Bangor and Belfast branches also offer emotional support via SMS text and every branch offers a drop-in facility where people can receive face- to- face support free of charge.
Volunteers are active in the local community, raising awareness and offering support in schools, hospitals and prisons.
They also work with partners and colleagues in other agencies to support the implementation of Protect Life, the Northern Ireland Suicide Prevention Strategy and Action Plan.
In this climate there can be no complacency on the part of any agency involved in suicide prevention.
Suzanne Costello, Director for Samaritans Ireland
"We are pleased to be marking the 50th anniversary of Samaritans in Northern Ireland and paying tribute to our many volunteers past and present who have supported people through difficult times in their lives for fifty years", Suzanne Costello, Director for Samaritans Ireland, said.
"Unfortunately services such as Samaritans are needed now more than ever; modern life and a rapidly changing world have not eclipsed the human need we all have to be listened to, supported and helped through difficult times."
Health Minister Edwin Poots paid tribute to the service.
"Samaritans is best known for the listening ear it provides, 24 hours a day, to anyone anywhere in the UK and Ireland who needs to talk about their problems in total confidence", he said.
"In setting up their service in 1953, Samaritans blazed a trail in the use of telephone helplines and, as the organisation moves further into the 21st century, it continues to innovate and provide support through the use of new technologies."
Samaritans has eight branches throughout Northern Ireland which can be contacted in confidence, 24 hours a day by phone: 08457 90 90 90 (NI) 1850 60 90 90 (ROI), by email or through face-to-face visits more information can be found on www.samaritans.org.