Samaritans Ireland has said its volunteers are receiving longer and more intense calls, reflecting the complexity of many people's lives.

The organisation published its impact report this morning and Executive Director Suzanne Costello described 2012 as its busiest year.

Ms Costello said there has been a huge rise in the number of people contacting the organisation on a face-to-face basis.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, she said there has been a 17% increase in the amount of people calling into its drop-in centres around the country.

She said: "Over the past three years we have seen gradual increases with the level of people connecting with the helpline services and what's particularly interesting in this report is the huge number of people contacting on a face-to-face basis.

"We have a 17% increase in that figure, so that is almost 7,000 individuals coming into our drop-in centres around the country at our 12 branches and also through our outreach branch, which is sort of a roving branch that goes around."

Ms Costello said it received over 400,000 calls in the last 12 months, a quarter of which were silent calls or calls that last less than ten seconds.

She said that when people are feeling vulnerable and stressed it can be some time before they find the courage to speak.

Ms Costello said men aged between 34 and 55 were a high-risk group that were particularly affected by the recession.

Samaritans Ireland - 1850-60-90-90