Lifeline in 'dire straits' with thousands of unanswered calls

Seven thousand pleas for help from depressed and suicidal Kiwis to support service Lifeline have gone unanswered so far this year. 

The shocking new figures provided to Newshub come as comedian Mike King demands action to reduce our suicide statistics. 

He says the people who go to Lifeline for help are "just hurting". 

"They're not drama queens, they're not attention seekers, they're not cowards, they're just people who are hurting and need help - but the help's not there."

People call when they're in "dire straits", but the phone support service for depressed and suicidal Kiwis is itself in dire straits. 

"We don't get any Government funding for our services," Lifeline's Glenda Schnell told Newshub.

"Right now, the needs of the people are huge."

Stripped of a Government contract in 2015, Lifeline is trying to rent out office space at its Auckland headquarters to make ends meet. 

Each year, Lifeline receives more than 100,000 calls. Last year more than 18,000 had to be dumped due to overloading. 

This year more than 7000 calls have been dumped. 

'We can't answer every call that comes our way, but if they leave a message, we will always call them back," Ms Schnell said.

When contacted by Newshub, the Minister and Ministry of Health didn't respond to questions about the unanswered calls at Lifeline.

Instead the Ministry said its contract has gone to a new integrated telephone health service called Telehealth. 

If you feel you need help dealing with depression or a difficult time in your life, call Lifeline on 0800 543 354 or the Suicide Crisis Helpline on 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO). Both are available 24/7.