SOUTH West Victoria’s Lifeline centre is expecting to take the highest number of crisis calls in its history by the end of the year.
Up until August this year 5739 calls have been received, compared to 6850 calls for all of 2011.
Lifeline South West chief executive Meredith Ericson said she expected between 8000 and 9000 calls for this year.
“This will be the most calls we’ve received in our history,” she said.
Ms Ericson said the number of calls varied month to month, with as many as 250 calls a month.
“These calls are essential. It’s a life-saving call,” she said. The recent data follows yesterday’s World Suicide Prevention day and Ms Ericson said most calls were for family-related issues, existing mental health problems or loss and grief.
She said a restructure of the south-west team had meant there were more people available to take calls.
“It is essential that people call,” she said.
“It may be just to get through an hour or that day.
“We know rural people are more at risk of suicide.”
Next year, Lifeline South West Victoria is planning a dawn walk to remember people who have been lost to suicide.
Community members affected by suicide have been invited to form a planning committee with members from Lifeline’s crisis support team.
“People who have experienced suicide are the experts. We’ll be guided by them,” Ms Ericson said.
Nationally, in the 12-month period to the end of August, Lifeline answered more than 500,000 calls from people seeking help. The most recent Australian Bureau of Statistics data shows 2361 people died as a result of suicide in 2010 — a rate of more than six per day.
It continues to be the leading cause of death for Australians aged 15-44, accounting for one in four deaths.
For Australian men, the overall suicide rate was 16 per 100,000, a rate almost four times greater than for Australian females (4.5 per 100,000).
Lifeline South West Victoria has an Out of the Shadows window lamp display at its Lifeline shop at 719 Raglan Parade. The display can be viewed until next Monday and people have been encouraged to show their support by purchasing a lamp or candle.
All money raised will towards the 13 11 14 crisis support service. The campaign also aims to remember those lost and those bereaved by suicide.
For more information and to be involved in the dawn walk, contact Carol Makhoul on 5559 0555.
If you or someone you know is experiencing an emotional crisis, call Lifeline on 131 114.