THE number of people calling Bournemouth and District Samaritans because of money worries has doubled in the last three years.

Since the start of the economic crisis in 2008, one in 10 calls to the charity’s helpline was about job concerns, housing problems, debt or other financial pressures. This year the figure has been one in five.

In September, the Daily Echo revealed that the number of suicides in Dorset rose sharply last year. Suicide rates in the poorest parts of the south west are twice as high as in the wealthiest.

The Samaritans’ annual national survey reveals that 58 per cent of people in the south west fear they will not have enough money to live comfortably in the coming year. A third are concerned about losing their job or having trouble finding work.

And with economic problems adding to global political turmoil, 36 per cent of people in the region are anxious about world affairs and 30 per cent about the way this country is being governed.

Jane, director of Bournemouth and District Samaritans – which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year – said: “Nationally, Samaritans receives more than 2.5 million calls a year. In 2011, to September alone, the branch has taken almost 27,000 calls.

“We are keenly aware of how our local students are being affected by additional financial pressures, particularly in light of recent changes. We are pleased that we have recently developed a good relationship with Bournemouth University to help address these problems for young people locally.”

Branch patron and psychologist Dr Andrew Mayers said that only 10 per cent of calls so Samaritans are potential suicides.

“The vast majority of people phoning up desperately need someone to talk to because they are at the end of their tether. The evidence is that suicides are down over Christmas, but other problems, such as loneliness, increase.”

He added that the service was completely anonymous and confidential, and that no information was passed to other agencies unless the caller requested it.

l Contact the Samaritans on 01202 551999; 08457 909 090; text 07725 90 90 90; or email