You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Suicide helpline funds drying up

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 29/06/2016

One of the country's most well-known suicide helplines says the loss of government contracts means it only has enough money to run for one more year.

But the government says its new telephone health service provider is doing a good job in its place.

Lifeline Aotearoa on Thursday announced it'll run out of funds by June 2017, unless it can get help from the public.

The 24/7 helpline service has operated since 1964 and answers about 15,000 calls a month from people dealing with a range issues, specialising in helping those at risk of suicide.

Lifeline board chair Ben Palmer said the loss of contracts to the government's telehealth service and rejection of appeals for government funding meant even restructuring and taking out a mortgage couldn't keep the organisation running.

"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," he said.

Asked in parliament why the government wouldn't fund the service, associate Health Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga said a new integrated, national telehealth service - which shifted Lifeline's contracts to Homecare Medical seven months ago - was performing well.

"These services are performing above expectations and the collective benefits of the integration of the healthline into one provider are now being seen," he said on behalf of Health Minister Jonathan Coleman.

But Mr Palmer said while there were other services around the country, none had the same expertise when it came to suicide and the service was good value-for-money.

He said there were 564 suicides last year in New Zealand and the government was putting little priority on the crisis.

The Green Party said the closure would be another hit to an "already strained mental health system".

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon