Telephone helpline service busy in 2011

10:02 am on 4 January 2012

Lifeline says 2011 has been a record-equalling year for calls.

The telephone help service says counsellors have taken about 120,000 calls, the same as in 2010, when there were nearly twice as many calls as in previous years.

Lifeline's clinical manager Melanie Ingram says counsellors are handling the work load well.

Ms Ingram says they want to encourage people to call when they begin to get into difficulty - not wait until they are desperate or suicidal.

Counsellors can then talk about strategies and solutions with the caller.

Ms Ingram says the suicide rate dropped in Christchurch after last year's devastating earthquake in February because communities came together in the aftermath.

However, she says Lifeline is worried about what will happen in the South Island city as life gets back to normal over the next year or two because becoming disconnected socially is a factor for suicide.

Ms Ingram says while New Zealand's national suicide prevention strategy contains some cutting-edge elements, the country's rates are not declining.