A total of 33,453 calls were made to the 1Life suicide helpline service last year. Of those who called, 8,121 agreed to be referred to third parties or emergency services in a bid to secure immediate help.
Most of the calls to 1Life, operated and funded by Console and the 3Ts, are made by people aged between 31 and 45.
The service, established in late 2009, is staffed by counsellors and medical specialists who can offer support for those in crisis.
1Life director Paul Kelly said 42% of calls were made last year by people considered to be at a low, moderate or high suicide risk or in the act of taking their lives.
About 35% of people called 1Life for listening support; 6% of calls were made by people who had been bereaved by suicide; and 7% were received from people looking for information. More than six out of 10 calls made last year were from women.
“Women are more inclined to talk about how they are feeling, whereas men find that very difficult to do. It really is an issue that has to be addressed because we can only begin to offer help when the first call is made,” he said.
Mental health factors were reported in 38% of all cases, with 19% disclosing a background of abuse and violence.
Mr Kelly, said Christmas and the New Year could often be the worst time of the year for many people.
“While Christmas and the new year are joyful occasions to celebrate and share with loved ones, we should reflect on how this time of year is also a difficult one for others,” he said.
“We are getting a lot of calls from many people deeply distressed because of the economic downturn. There are people in serious debt and really fearful that their homes will be repossessed,” he said.
1Life is expecting a 30% surge in callers in January and February as people become overwhelmed by financial and other problems that emerge after Christmas.
Mr Kelly also urged people with mental health issues and those struggling with depression to contact 1Life if they found that their medical care is disrupted because of the Christmas and new year holidays.
“1Life will operate day and night all through Christmas and the new year period, as it does all year round, on freephone 1800 247100 and will provide emotional support, therapeutic counselling and, in the event of emergencies, crisis referrals and emergency intervention,” he said.
The helpline is also available to concerned loved ones wanting advice or practical assistance on how to approach the topic of suicide or self-harm or to find help for their family member or friend.
* 1Life also operates a text service — text the word HELP to 51444.