Lifeline Reaches Record One Million Calls for Help
14 January 2016 at 11:28 am
For the first time in its 52 year history, Not for Profit crisis call centre, Lifeline, received more than one million requests for help from Australians in 2015, including recording the busiest ever four-month period for the help line.
Lifeline Australia’s new CEO, Pete Shmigel, said the organisation was connecting with more help-seeking people than ever – answering more than 71,000 calls a month since September 2015 – as demand for its 24/7 crisis support and suicide prevention services rose to new levels.
Between September and December 2015, Lifeline said that more than 84,000 calls were received each month with a call answer rate of 85 per cent – up from 61 per cent in 2012.
Lifeline said it received a call every 32.2 seconds and averaged more than 2,600 calls each day. More than 44,000 online chat requests were also made to Lifeline’s online site in 2015.
“It’s heart-wrenching that there are so many in our community in crisis and needing support, but it is heart-warming that they can rely on the compassionate and effective help offered by Lifeline’s more than 4,000 telephone and online crisis supporters, most of whom are volunteers,” Shmigel said.
Shmigel said that the national charity would continue to innovate to better serve the Australian public, whether it be through its use of technology or better integration with other health services.
“With our online Crisis Support Chat service continuing to reach higher numbers of [the] 15 to 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,” Shmigel said.
“There is immense potential for such a service. For example, it could support people by checking in on their well being following a suicide attempt.
“Plus, it’s our desire to be involved in an advanced model of mental health care 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.”
Chairman of Lifeline Australia, John Brogden, said that Shmigel, who was appointed as CEO in October 2015, brought empathy to the task of taking Lifeline Australia and the battle against suicide to the next level.
“Pete’s family has lived the experience of positive recovery from suicidal behaviour. His son, Tim, who made three attempts on his own life as a teenager, recently walked 6500 kilometres from Australia’s southernmost point to northernmost point to raise awareness and funds for Lifeline,” Brogden said.
“Pete has more than 20 years of successful experience at the highest levels of Australian public policy, business and consulting. He is well placed to implement the Board’s strategy and guide the organisation as it contributes to saving and changing lives in a very complex, fast-changing digital world.”
In September 2015 the Federal Government announced a $5.6 million increase to the charity’s domestic violence training program, called DV-alert, which trains allied health and community frontline workers to respond and refer people in situations of domestic and family violence.
Brogden said that the $14 million to be provided over three years – up from $8.4 million – would go a long way to supporting Lifeline’s vision of an Australia free of suicide.
“With women experiencing personal violence 4.5 times more likely to attempt to take their own life, this support from the Australian Government will help save lives,” Brogden said. “It will do so by allowing Lifeline to significantly expand our nationally-accredited training program, DV-Alert,” he said.
“Since October 2011, Lifeline’s DV-alert has trained more than 5000 frontline workers across the country – we will now be able to train police, social workers, emergency department staff and community workers under the increased funding.”
Approximately 80 per cent of Lifeline’s operating costs are funded by revenue raised from the organisation’s more than 260 retail outlets nationally as well as book fairs and fundraising activities.
If you or anyone you know needs help, call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au