Lifeline brand irreplaceable - counsellor

Beautiful blond woman at sunset at home talking on cell phone

Anger is building about the possible closure of a crisis helpline, which is used by more than 15,000 people a month.

Lifeline Aotearoa won't be able to continue for much longer due to a lack of funding, and has twice been denied aid from the Government.

New Zealand Association of Counsellors president Robyn McGill says it will particularly be a struggle for troubled men, who make up twice the number of calls as women.

"We know that male responses to mental health services are very poor. They're not the people to go and put their hand up and say, 'I'm in trouble here. Things aren't going well. I don't know what to do.' And yet they ring a crisis line."

Lifeline believes it will be forced to close its doors next year after losing a government contract to supply counselling over the phone.

Instead, the Government has contracted Homecare Medical, a partnership between Pegasus Health and ProCare, to supply a new service that will also let users communicate via text, email, online chat and social media.

The new service will also take calls previously handled by Healthline and Quitline, as well as offer advice on gambling, alcohol and drug abuse, immunisation, poisons and depression.

Lifeline has been in operation since 1964. Ms McGill says the loss will have a huge impact, even if it is being replaced by another provider.

"It's a brand that's worldwide-known. If there are people that come to the country, they associate that as a caring, supportive service."

Figures show 564 New Zealanders committed suicide over a 12-month period before October last year, the highest since official records began in 2007.

But Statistics NZ data shows per head of population, suicide has generally been decreasing since the mid-1990s