NEEDING A LIFELINE: Despite answering 21,000 calls, Lifeline Lismore is struggling to help everyone who turns to them for assistance.
NEEDING A LIFELINE: Despite answering 21,000 calls, Lifeline Lismore is struggling to help everyone who turns to them for assistance. Supplied

More than 1000 desperate calls made to crisis line

MORE than 1000 of the 21,000 calls to Lismore Lifeline in the past 12 months were from people in immediate danger of self-harm.

While Lifeline nationally answers one million calls annually, the Lismore centre is under increasing pressure to support Northern Rivers residents.

Servicing a region of more than 223,000 people, events such as the Lismore Floods have seen an increase in calls to the already overwhelmed organisation.

According to Lifeline Lismore centre manager Niall Mulligan, the organisation is struggling to assist everyone who phones the 13 11 14 crises line.

He said it's a heartbreaking situation.

"In the last 12 months we answered 21,000 for help and five per cent or more than 1000 were from people whose current situation is at significant risk of self-harm at the time of the call," he said.

"The fact is we struggle to answer all the calls which come through. People may assume Lifeline is a fully-funded government organisation, we rely on a combination of federal government and the NSW government, which along with our retail income allows us to answer 85 per cent of calls."

Mr Mulligan said calls answered at the Lismore centre are up more than 25 per cent, up from around 15,000 in 2014 to 21,000 this year.

"That increased capacity has been driven by the success of our retail operation who are now providing us with more funds than ever before and the hard work of our 13 11 14 Crisis Support volunteers," he said.

"Nationally we receive about 1,000,000 calls a year and we are able to answer about 850,000 of those callers, ultimately at $26 per call we have a national funding gap of about $4,000,000 a year."

According to the Lifeline Northern Rivers website, of the 15,000 calls in 2014, about 800 of those calls were from people at high risk of suicide.

Richmond Local Area Command Inspector David Vandergriend, said mental health is a significant issue for police in the region.

Insp Vandergriend said the impact of the March floods on people's mental health, is "a very real possibility."

"Mental health is also an area that we need to work along side our partner agencies to provide the best service that we can in that area," he said.

"It appears to be continuing to dominate a lot of our resources."

Today, Lifeline Australia launched its Lifeline For Lifeline campaign.

Chairman John Brogden said a call to Lifeline's 24/7 crisis support services is received every 30 seconds.

"We don't have the resources to answer every call immediately, which is particularly heartbreaking when you consider the enormous strength and courage it takes for someone to reach out when they're struggling," he said.

"That $26, which goes towards costs like recruitment, training, equipment and supervision, can make a profound difference (as) it can save friends, families and whole communities the heartache of losing someone to suicide."

Anyone needing support can call 13 11 14.

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