Lifeline approaches Christmas on track for record year
Lifeline Australia’s 3500 crisis support volunteers will receive a record number of calls in 2016, with the national charity working around the clock to ensure no suicidal person has to be alone over the festive season.
CEO Pete Shmigel said that, having received more than 920,000 calls to the 13 11 14 crisis line so far this year, Lifeline is committed to doing more and better to stop suicide.
“With the national suicide toll at a 10-year-plus high, I thank our volunteers and staff across the country for working even harder and meeting the increased needs from people in need by answering more calls for help than ever before in our 53 years of history,” Mr Shmigel said.
“While we can say we save the lives of some 100 Aussies every day, no one wants 3000 lives lost each year to be the new tragic benchmark for suicide in Australia. To this end, Lifeline is calling for a National Summit on Suicide and national suicide prevention plan to encourage innovation together with old-fashioned care and compassion.
“Lifeline is doing what it can to lift its game for people in need, but as a country we can respond differently and reduce suicide as has been done where there are real strategies. This means bringing together thought leaders from inside and outside the health sector to discuss topics like the role of social media, technology and various industries in suicide prevention.
“For instance, while our society is wealthier, more technologically connected and medicated than ever before, are we doing enough to promote human connection and belonging?”
Mr Shmigel also expressed sadness that, despite Lifeline achieving a record answer rate of 86 per cent of calls in 2016 – and even higher rates for online Crisis Support Chat service – the charity does not have the resources to answer ever call immediately.
“While we are thankful to the Federal Government and some State and Territory governments, our corporate sponsors and donors for their generous and ongoing support, we are disappointed and even heartbroken when someone has to wait for extended periods as a result of a lack of resources,” Mr Shmigel said.
“My message to those people is to please stay on the line or try calling again later – you will get through. I also encourage the community to look out for colleagues, friends and loved ones who may be doing it tough over the Christmas and New Year’s period.
“It’s important to be mindful of how the people in our lives are coping, and letting them know that they should never have to feel alone – help is available.”
For 24/7 crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au.
INTERVIEWS: To request an interview, please contact [email protected] or 0408 407 376.