INDEPENDENT NEWS

Lifeline Celebrates 60th Year But “Pressure Has Never Been Greater”

Published: Mon 29 Apr 2024 01:06 PM
Lifeline Aotearoa is launching a public appeal to help cover its running costs as it celebrates its 60 years of helping New Zealanders.
“We receive thousands of calls and texts every month, including an average of 17 calls per day from people at high risk of self-harm or suicide,” says Dr Bonnie Robinson MNZM, Chief Executive of Presbyterian Support Northern (PSN) Charitable Trust, which runs Lifeline as part of its social services group.
“Lifeline saves lives. It fills a big gap in the primary mental health space that people may otherwise simply fall through.”
Lifeline has not received government funding since 2016 while demand for primary mental health support remains high, and increases significantly at times of stress such as the COVID-19 pandemic, severe weather events and the cost of living crisis.
Lifeline and the Tautoko suicide crisis helplines operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week and receive between 7000 and 8000 calls per month. Lifeline counsellors also receive and reply to 20,000 texts per month from people of all ages and all walks of life who are in crisis or distress.
The most common issues people call Lifeline about are loneliness and isolation, relationship difficulties, clinical mental health issues, anxiety and depression, and suicide.
Lifeline counsellors are specially trained in supporting people at risk of self-harm or suicide, the most intensive mental health helpline calls.
“The Lifeline team does a fantastic job, but we’re under more pressure than ever with demand remaining high, and costs increasing, just as they have for all New Zealanders. That is why, we are calling on our supporters, community and the public to dig deep to help us to continue to provide this service. We want to be there for people for the next 60 years,” Dr Robinson said.
”Answering a call to the Lifeline helpline costs us $36. The more financial support we receive, the more calls we can answer. People know they can count on us to be there for them 24/7 and we are committed to being here long-term, but we need help,” says Dr Robinson.
Throughout its 60 years, Lifeline has provided free support for millions of people around New Zealand. To celebrate its 60th, Lifeline is encouraging New Zealanders to get involved by taking on a birthday challenge or by making a donation to ensure that Lifeline’s vital service is always there when people need it. Find out more on the Lifeline website: www.lifeline.org.nz

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