A lifeline for Lifeline

picture of company's brandLeading counselling service, Lifeline, has been thrown a lifeline by Presbyterian Support Northern (PSN), which has committed 18 months of operational support while looking to also help solve Lifeline’s long-term funding issues.

Lifeline, which takes around 18,000 calls a month, was in financial crisis, having lost significant government funding over the past year. PSN responded with an offer of help. PSN is one of the largest non-government organisations in the health and social service sector, providing a range of services throughout the upper North Island.

PSN’s support over the next 18 months is crucial to ensure that Lifeline can continue to help New Zealanders get through their tough times,” said Glenda Schnell, Executive Director of Lifeline.

“The Lifeline staff and volunteers are relieved that our services will continue and are now looking forward to next year”

Lifeline Auckland was established in the mid 1960s by several churches, including PSN, which has been an active Lifeline supporter since that time. Lifeline is New Zealand’s longest operating telephone help service and is now one of the country’s leading support organisations for New Zealanders in crisis. Dr Rod Watts, PSN’s CE, says, “PSN is making an investment in Lifeline to continue its services and to explore options in the New Year for further development. The financial situation is a big challenge, and we are optimistic about finding a longterm solution.

PSN will utilise its organisational capability and capacity to provide Lifeline with operating support. “The initial priority,” Dr Watts says, “is to stabilise Lifeline and guarantee callers will continue to receive the excellent services from Lifeline that they have relied upon.

People in crisis need to have trust in who they reach out to, and Lifeline is a well-known, trusted, confidential service,” said Dr Watts. “New Zealand continues to have one of the highest suicide rates in OECD countries. Providing a lifeline to those who are losing hope fits very well with PSN’s vision of a better life for everyone.”
Schnell reassures that even after the merge with PSN, callers can still expect to get the same high quality, sensitive and confidential help they’re used to when calling Lifeline.

People calling the Lifeline number will not notice any difference,” she said. “It will still be the same number – 0800 Lifeline (0800 543 354) – and the same mix of extensively trained clinical experts and volunteers. It will continue as a distinct and unique service.”

Lifeline’s helplines answer up to 18,000 calls per month on a raft of issues including suicidal thoughts, loneliness, family violence, financial concerns, homelessness, bullying, relationship issues, and mental health.

With the number of calls continuing to rise, it is essential that Lifeline gets the support it needs to keep answering those calls so we can make sure to support New Zealanders’ mental and emotional wellbeing,” concluded Schnell.

About Presbyterian Support Northern
Presbyterian Support Northern is a charitable trust with more than 1,000 staff which offers a wide range of social services in the community under three main brands: Enliven supports the elderly and people with disabilities or recovering from injury; Family Works concentrates on support for at risk children and young people with a focus on families; and Shine is a specialist domestic abuse service provider.

For more information please contact:
Susanne Ritzenhoff, GM – Communications & Fundraising
Presbyterian Support Northern
Phone: 09 520 8603 or 021 850 867
Email: Susanne.Ritzenhoff@psn.org.nz

High Demand After Quakes

picture of cracks in the road after the earthquakesLifeline Aotearoa experienced a significant increase in demand following yesterday morning’s 7.5 magnitude earthquake.

Between just after midnight when the earthquake struck through to 10am on Monday, Lifeline experienced a surge in calls.

In the first ten hours after the earthquake we had a 30% increase in calls,” said Debbie Greenfield, Lifeline Spokeswoman.

The hours following the first shake were extremely frightening for people, made worse by significant after shocks, tsunami warnings, power outages and communication black outs“.

For Cantabrians particularly, many found yesterday’s event very re-traumatising. It is critical that specialised and accessible support for adults and children in effected communities is readily available for the days, weeks and months ahead,” said Ms Greenfield.

Lifeline provides 24 hours a day, 7 days a week counselling and support. Anyone needing support should call Lifeline on 0800 543 354.

To support Lifeline to keep being able to provide its services to New Zealanders please donate now.

Surge In Crisis Calls

picture of callIn the last four months, calls made to Lifeline Aotearoa about suicide and self-harm have increased by 37 per cent.

More staggering is that since last month’s launch of a “Help Keep Lifeline Alive Campaign” there has been a 48 per cent increase in calls to Lifeline relating to suicide and self-harm alone.

In June this year, Lifeline announced it only has enough money to run its 24 hour help lines for one more year. In August, Lifeline launched a national media campaign as part of its fight for survival.

During the last 12 months, we have noticed a 40 per cent increase in demand for our Lifeline and suicide crisis helplines as more and more kiwis reach out for help and support. But since we went public in June about the future viability of Lifeline’s helplines, the phones have barely stopped ringing,” says Lifeline CEO Jo Denvir.

Calls to Lifeline’s suicide crisis line ‘Tautoko’ relating to suicide and self-harm have also increased by 60 per cent in the past four months. Calls relating to other issues such as access to housing, social isolation and loneliness, employment concerns and relationship issues have also increased by nearly 20 per cent in the past month.

What these figures tell us is that not only is need higher than ever, but that services like Lifeline are a critical part of the suite of public health responses any modern society needs for its citizens when they face a personal crisis.”

We are one of the country’s most recognised and trusted organisations providing immediate support to the emotional and mental wellbeing of every caller who reaches out to us for help. Kiwis are choosing our service to seek support and advice and that choice must remain available to them. It’s unthinkable that we may be forced to turn off our 24/7 phone lines next June,” says Ms Denvir.

Anyone who would like to support Lifeline can click here to donate now.

Media inquiries: 021 815 519

Lifeline’s Ad Campaign


Lifeline Aotearoa today launched a “Help Keep Lifeline Alive” campaign as part of its fight for survival.

In June, Lifeline announced it only had enough funds to keep operating its free, 24/7 helplines until June 2017. Lifeline has served Kiwis in crisis for more than 50 years and answers hundreds of thousands of calls each year.

The “Help Keep Lifeline Alive” campaign features some of Lifeline’s extraordinary volunteers.

Lifeline CEO Jo Denvir says the organisation relies on highly-trained volunteers to be at the end of the phone for the 15,000 Kiwis who call Lifeline helplines every month.

“In telling the stories of those who give up their time to be involved in our service, we hope to raise awareness of the critical role we play for Kiwis in crisis.

“We also hope to motivate Kiwis to help us fight for our survival both through sharing our campaign on their social media platforms and of course by donating to us via our website.

“While each of our volunteers have different motivations for their involvement with Lifeline, what is absolutely without doubt is their shared alarm for what will happen in New Zealand if Lifeline helplines go dead in around 300 days’ time.”

Ms Denvir says despite the life changing service Lifeline performs, and the fact its services lessen the burden for other agencies like the Police and Emergency Departments, to respond to Kiwis in crisis, Lifeline does not receive any Government funding for its 24/7 helplines.

“Lifeline helplines answer one call every five minutes, 24 hours a day on issues including loneliness, family violence, financial concerns, homelessness, bullying and relationship issues, mental health and suicidal thoughts.

“Our particular expertise is around suicide. We offer crisis support and safety planning as well as specialist suicide intervention and training.

“This is so important given figures show suicide in New Zealand is the third highest cause of death after heart disease and lung cancer. For the year ended May 2015, 569 people died by suicide or suspected suicide. This is the highest number since records began and double that of the annual road toll,” says Ms Denvir.

Anyone who would like to support Lifeline can make an online donation here or text LIFE to 3181 to donate $3.

Media inquiries: 021 815 519

22 Push Ups Challenge

Lifeline Aotearoa is calling in Kiwis to take on the ‘22 Push Ups Challenge’ to raise awareness of suicide in New Zealand.

The 22 Push Up Challenge originally began in the United States as a way to raise awareness of the 22 veterans who complete suicide every day.

Lifeline CEO Jo Denvir says in New Zealand 22 ordinary Kiwis commit suicide every two weeks.

“Sadly, last year 564 Kiwis died by suicide, the highest number on record and nearly double the annual road toll, which stood at 321. For young New Zealanders, particularly Maori, suicide is the leading cause of death.

“The ‘22 Push Ups Challenge’ is our way of helping to raise awareness of suicide in New Zealand and to ensure people suffering from suicidal thoughts know they can get specialized help from Lifeline’s Suicide Crisis Helpline (0508 Tautoko) 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” says Ms Denvir.

The video of Lifeline’s highly trained volunteers taking on the “22 Push Ups Challenge” can be found at Lifeline Aotearoa’s Facebook page.

“I encourage everyone to watch our amazing volunteers taking on the Challenge, post their own, make a donation to Lifeline and then challenge their friends to do the same. The more people we have participating, the more we can do collectively to highlight and de-stigmatize this serious issue,” says Ms Denvir.

Ms Denvir also says, following last month’s announcement that Lifeline only has enough funds to operate its free 24/7 helplines for another year, the 22 Push Ups Challenge is another way the organization is seeking to raise required funds to continue it’s suicide prevention work.

Donations can be made at lifeline.org.nz or by texting ‘LIFE’ to 3181 to donate $3.

Fighting For Survival

Lifeline Aotearoa today announced it only has enough money to run for one more year.

By 30 June 2017, all available sustainability reserves and funds from a new mortgage on its Auckland property will be exhausted. It has restructured and is appealing for public support in an effort to keep offering its critical services to Kiwis in crisis.

Lifeline Aotearoa has operated consistently in New Zealand since 1964. It has become an iconic and trusted service providing 24/7 helplines and low-cost counselling to people in crisis. It is staffed by a mix of paid clinical experts and volunteers, all of whom have undergone world-class training.

Lifeline helplines answer up to 15,000 calls per month on a raft of issues including loneliness, family violence, financial concerns, homelessness, bullying and relationship issues, mental health and suicidal thoughts.

While there are numerous other helplines, none have the expertise of Lifeline in regard to suicide, crisis, peer-support and other counselling.

It is also the country’s most significant specialist provider of suicide intervention and training and, as such, is on the frontline of suicide prevention in New Zealand.

Despite the life enhancing, and potentially life saving, service it undertakes, and unlike similar Lifeline organisations around the world, Lifeline Aotearoa does not receive any Government funding for its 24/7 helplines.

It’s current financial position is the result of the loss of contracts to the Government’s new Telehealth Service, which has impacted on the organisation’s ability to fund its 24/7 helplines.

Lifeline Aotearoa Board Chair Ben Palmer says appeals to Government for funding assistance were rejected.

“We made the tough decision to cut a number of positions, including many of the management team, and our CEO will now work part time. Critically, we have ensured Lifeline can continue to operate its 24/7 crisis lines staffed by professionals and highly trained volunteers.

“Unfortunately these changes only buy Lifeline another year. In that time the Board will do whatever it can to try and secure the funds Lifeline requires annually to remain open, including launching further public support campaigns.”

Mr Palmer says with the well documented crisis in mental health and the New Zealand suicide rate reaching epidemic proportions, the Lifeline service has never been more critical.

“564 Kiwis died by suicide last year, the highest number on record and nearly double the annual road toll, which stood at 321. For young New Zealanders, particularly Maori, suicide is the leading cause of death.

“Sadly, it’s estimated for every person who commits suicide 40-100 people attempt it.

“It’s a shame the Government places little priority on people in crisis. This is starkly highlighted by the $600 million it has allocated to bringing down the road toll (an additional $360 million over 6 years).

“Interestingly the Government is prepared to invest $666,667 per person saved from road death or serious injury – 900 people – over 10 years. In that time, based on current numbers, 5,640 Kiwis may die through suicide. How much additional money is the Government prepared to invest for them?”

Mr Palmer says suicide and attempted suicide represent a significant social and economic burden in New Zealand.

“Every call Lifeline answers lessens that burden and decreases the demand on other services like Police and Emergency Departments, not to mention the ACC costs associated with suicide attempts.

“We are in no doubt Lifeline is far too important to New Zealanders in crisis to simply disappear. We are New Zealanders’ lifeline,” says Mr Palmer.

Anyone who would like to support Lifeline can click here to donate now.

Inquiries: Kiri Hannifin 021 815 519