Thousands of people have shared the Samaritans’ helpline number on social media to remind those struggling over the festive period that they are never alone.

While Christmas is a happy time for many, others experience loneliness, family problems, homelessness and mental health issues, among other things.

Mental health charity Mind found in 2015 that more than a third (36%) of people with mental health problems have self-harmed to cope with the pressure of Christmas.

Mind’s survey, of 1,100 supporters, also discovered that more than half (52%) have considered harming themselves during this period, while nearly half (45%) have thought about taking their own life.

Today, people on Twitter began copying and pasting the Samaritans’ free number – 116 123 –  to let people know there is always someone out there who will listen.

Those who shared the hotline number included politician Rory Stewart, actress Caitriona Balfe and MEP Alexandra Phillips.

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Some people shared personal stories of family members or friends attempting to take their own lives.

Photographer Verity Milligan wrote: ‘Some years ago, early on a cold Dec morning, I pulled a woman out of the canal.

‘She wanted to die, but thankfully the emergency services got to us in time.

‘This time of year can be tough.’

Irish novelist Marian Keyes added: ‘The most wonderful time of the year” – for SOME.

‘For others, it’s the very worst of times – and there’s no shame in that. I find it difficult. If it’s all too much for you, the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day on 116 123.

‘Or if you’re unable to talk, [email protected]’.

Others on social media wanted to make it clear that you don’t have to be suicidal to call Samaritans.

Laura Hutchings wrote: ‘Important to note that this number is also available to call if you just need to speak to someone – if you’re feeling overwhelmed, lonely, and/or just need a kind stranger to talk to.

‘You don’t have to be suicidal to call the Samaritans, I don’t think many people realise that.’

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On Twitter, Samaritans said it was ‘great to see so many people sharing our helpline details today.’

They added: ‘Just a reminder that we’re here for anyone who needs someone. If you’re struggling to cope, we’re here to listen.’

According to the NHS , one in four people in the UK are likely to experience a mental health problem every year, with 1.4 million people referred to NHS mental health therapy in last year alone.

Samaritans is available to contact 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Last Christmas, the charity responded to more than 300,000 calls for help.

It’s free to call the charity from both landlines and mobiles, including pay-as-you-go phones.

The service is completely confidential, aside from in certain situations where safeguarding policy means someone may have to be alerted, for example an ambulance service.