Lifeline: record number of calls last year


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Lifeline Australia received more than 1m calls for help last year, a record in its 52 year history.

The organisation received more than 70,000 calls a month since September last year, as demand for its services rises to new levels, says Lifeline Australia CEO Pete Shmigel.

Although he says the figures are “heart-wrenching” with so many people in crisis and seeking support, Shmigel says it is also “heart-warming” that people can receive help from more than 4000 telephone and online crisis supporters, most of whom are volunteers.

“Lifeline offers a life-saving and life-changing alternative. It is always there for those confronting crisis and suicide, but also for those who trust us with their ongoing and often complex problems. There are never any hoops to jump through or barriers to receiving help or judgements made – we provide a confidential and caring service and are only a phone call or online chat away.

“With Lifeline Centres, staff and volunteers based… across the country, we have a strong relationship with the community and therefore receive more calls than all other Australian helplines combined.”

Shmigel adds that the charity will be able to assist even more people in crisis through the use of technology and improved integration with other health services.

“We will grow our services to best serve a modern Australia. With our online Crisis Support Chat service continuing to reach higher numbers of 15-44 age group, the highest risk age group of suicide in Australia, we now aim to secure the funds to create a complementary text-based service. There is immense potential for such a service. For example, it could support people by checking in on their wellbeing following a suicide attempt.

“Plus, it’s our desire to be involved in an advanced model of mental healthcare that sees better collaboration between GPs, mental health professionals and other crisis helplines, including the proposed new digital gateway which we believe we can contribute to.”

Key 2015 stats:

• More than one million contact points for crisis support in 2015
• Between Sep-Dec, more than 84,000 calls received and 71,000 calls answered each month
• 977,503 calls to 13 11 14; 831,849 calls answered
• 85% call answer rate – up from 61% in FY12
• A call to 13 11 14 every 32.2 seconds
• An average of more than 2600 calls each day
• 44,470 online chat requests; 41,582 chats answered.

For crisis or suicide prevention support, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp.

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