For most of us, the holiday season is a fun time of year, filled with celebrations with family and friends. However, for many people in our community, it is a time filled with sadness, self-reflection, loneliness and anxiety. The ‘holiday blues’ are real and much more common than you might think.
Fortunately, there are services that work to help those in our community who are doing it tough. Lifeline Canberra exists to support people in emotional distress and as a suicide prevention service.
Lifeline Canberra CEO Carrie Leeson says this year has been unprecedented: “2020 has been a year like no other. The importance of community, connection and kindness has never been so relevant. We are so proud to be a part of the Canberra community as we aim to continue to give back, support those in need and spread messages of kindness through this festive period.”
Community support and sponsorship is vital to Lifeline Canberra.
Usually, their book fairs raise a major portion of the funding needed to keep the local crisis support service running. However, this year, these events had to be curtailed due to COVID-19.
While book fairs were on hold, with the support of sponsors like Icon Water, Lifeline Canberra was able to host a bookstore called ‘Book Lovers Lane’ at the Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets.
The Lifeline bookstore, run entirely by volunteers and donations, is allowing book sales to continue with all funds raised going directly to the local crisis support service.
Icon Water has been an active sponsor of Lifeline for the past 10 years.
“Sponsors like Icon Water, and the ongoing support received from those within the Canberra Community, has really been a shining light in 2020,” Carrie said.
Further support came from Morris Legal Group, which decided to forgo their annual gift baskets and instead donated the money to Lifeline Canberra. This kicked off the Lifeline Christmas Giving Tree Appeal, also located at Book Lovers Lane, where individuals can purchase a paper bauble for $26, with each bauble covering the cost of one crisis support call.
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“Suicide is the leading cause of death for people aged between 15 and 44. Currently, nine people die by suicide each day in Australia. In Canberra alone, we lose one person to suicide each week,” Carrie said.
“Each day, Lifeline staff and volunteers fight to save lives through our 24/7 local crisis support line. Our highly skilled team give up their nights, weekends and family time to help those in need, listening with care and acceptance to anyone who calls.”
Lifeline is a not-for-profit organisation that requires donations in order to continue to support community needs. It costs around $10,000 to train a new Telephone Crisis Support Volunteer and $26 to answer a life-changing call. Something simple like buying a bauble for the Lifeline giving tree could save a life.
It is not yet known the full impacts that COVID-19 is having on the mental health of many, not only today but the long-term effects that will continue into the future. However, we do know that the pandemic has amplified factors linked with distress and suicide, including unemployment, housing insecurity and financial stress.
If you would like to help Lifeline answer more calls and provide suicide prevention and crisis support, pop along to Book Lovers Lane and purchase a bauble or you can donate here.
If you or someone you know needs help, contact 13 11 14 at any time for support from the team at Lifeline Canberra.