LIFELINE is calling for public support to put pressure on the Federal Government to double its suicide prevention funding following new figures that show suicides have reached their highest rate in a decade.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show an increase of almost 13.5% in just one year, from 2013 to 2014.
Suicide on the increase
In 2014, 2864 people took their own lives, the equivalent of eight people per day.
Figures from the Northern NSW Local Health District show the Northern Rivers has a significantly higher than average rate of suicide compared to the state.
Niall Mulligan from Lifeline Northern Rivers called on the local region to get behind the campaign, stating the importance of a whole-of-community approach to suicide prevention.
"These are very challenging statistics and reflect a disturbing reality," he said.
"Along with increased funding there is a clear need on the Northern Rivers for a community-wide, inclusive Suicide Prevention Network that would bring together government, NGOs and community groups working in the area of suicide prevention."
Northern NSW highest rate
In 2012, 723 people died by suicide in NSW, making the rate 9.8 per 100,000.
In comparison, Northern NSW had a rate of 15 per 1000,000.
Lifeline's launched its online campaign today seeking one million signatures calling for the doubling of suicide prevention funding.
Lifeline Australia CEO Pete Shmigel said it was time for the Federal Government to acknowledge the growing national suicide emergency and provide adequate funding to support lifesaving services, research and initiatives.
"We know the profound impact that suicide can have on individuals, families, friends and whole communities," he said.
"In seeking a million signatures through this campaign, we want to empower everyday Australians to join together and take important steps towards the goal of stopping suicides.
Double the road toll
"The number of deaths by suicide is more than double the road toll, and yet government funding for road safety is double that for suicide prevention.
"Furthermore, while we have seen a 25 per cent decrease in the number of motor vehicle deaths over the past 10 years, the number of suicides has increased significantly in this time.
"By sharing Lifeline's online petition via social media or email, we have the opportunity to create a groundswell of support to show the government that we as a community care about this issue, we do not accept this needless loss of life and we want to do something about it."
Mr Shmigel said that while Lifeline will receive more than a million calls to its 13 11 14 crisis line this year, the national charity does not have the resources to answer every call immediately.
"We are disappointed and even heartbroken when someone has to wait for extended periods as a result of our lack of resources, but my message to those people is to please hang on the line or try calling again later - you will get through. We greatly value the community's support so we can answer every call at all times of day all year long."
To sign Lifeline's petition today, visit prevent-suicide.lifeline.org.au/sign.
For crisis or suicide prevention support, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit www.lifeline.org.au/gethelp.