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The Samaritans

The Call, Series 2 Episode 4 of 5

15 minutes
First broadcast:
Tuesday 22 February 2011

Dominic Arkwright meets people who have made life-changing phone calls.

Following a failed suicide attempt, Duncan Irvine made a phone call to the Samaritans that saved his life.

In the 1970's Duncan lived in a small village in the Scottish borders with his mother, who was suffering from mental health problems.

"She started hearing voices, and told me that the TV was talking to her. She would write down strange things like car numbers and putting them in my pocket. I got no help from our local doctor and I thought not helping her was my fault."

Duncan was also struggling with the realisation that he was gay.

"I felt guilty and ashamed about it all, and was afraid of speaking to anyone. I was depressed but no-one used that word then. Depressed was how you felt when Rangers lost at Ibrox."

One day at work, the pressure overwhelmed him and he tried to cut his wrists. When that didn't work, he thought about throwing himself into the sea. As he walked the streets of Edinburgh, he saw a poster for the Samaritans and decided to give them a call.

"Everything had been going round in my head and it seemed so big I couldn't cope with it....Talking through it made me realise maybe there are some things I can do about this a little bit at a time."

Duncan now runs a pub in London and volunteers for the Samaritans.


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