Light­ing the way

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - FRONT PAGE -

WITH Life­line's Christ­mas Tree be­ing lit up at El­iz­a­beth Quay, Belmont busi­ness­man and am­bas­sador Peter Hughes has en­cour­aged peo­ple to use the ser­vice.

WA’s big­gest Christ­mas Tree, at El­iz­a­beth Quay, will shine bright for the Lights for Life­line cam­paign this Christ­mas.

Dec­o­rated with more than 55,000 lights -the num­ber of peo­ple who called Life­line’s 24/7 cri­sis sup­port line this year - they will sparkle to re­mind peo­ple about those in need.

Belmont busi­ness­man Peter Hughes has never rung the cri­sis sup­port line but said there were peo­ple whom he wished had picked up the phone.

“I lost my mate a few weeks ago so that’s what mo­ti­vated me to get in­volved with Life­line this time,” he said.

Mr Hughes has been an am­bas­sador for Life­line since he was badly in­jured dur­ing the Bali bomb­ings in 2002.

Suf­fer­ing burns to 54 per cent of his body, it was dur­ing the coun­selling process that he re­alised he may have had men­tal health is­sues ear­lier in life.

“I don’t have any prob­lem talk­ing about my ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said. “If I hadn’t gone to Bali I’d just be a stat some­where.”

When Mr Hughes was 17, his brother died of sui­cide.

“It broke my family apart, def­i­nitely. We be­came marked by it and it all took us and made us a bit more in­su­lar,” he said.

“What you do get from it is what you don’t want to hap­pen in your own family.”

He said Christ­mas was one of the most poignant times of the year.

“It’s not al­ways good- it can be the loneli­est time for any­one go­ing through a bit of a downer.”

Life­line WA chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Lorna MacGre­gor said the fes­tive sea­son was Life­line’s busiest time of year, with one call made to its 13 11 14 cri­sis line ev­ery 32 sec­onds.

Of those, 14 per cent were at im­mi­nent risk of sui­cide.

Sui­cide is the lead­ing cause of death for peo­ple aged 54 and un­der while sui­cide in WA has in­creased by 60 per cent in the last decade.

Ms MacGre­gor said de­mand for Life­line ser­vices was con­tin­u­ally in­creas­ing and the char­ity needed ex­tra fund­ing to meet the de­mand.

It costs $25 to fund one cri­sis sup­port call.

Do­na­tions to the Lights for Life­line cam­paign will go di­rectly to ex­pand Life­line’s sup­port ser­vices and train more vol­un­teers so ev­ery call can be an­swered.

“We are ask­ing the com­mu­nity to get be­hind the Lights for Life­line cam­paign this year and do­nate – just $25 will help one West­ern Aus­tralian in need,” Ms MacGre­gor said.

The tree will be open to the pub­lic who are be­ing asked to do­nate to Life­line in the char­ity’s big­gest ever Christ­mas fundrais­ing ap­peal.

You can help to shine a light by do­nat­ing to Life­line’s web­site, on www.lights.org.au.

Lights in a dark place: Life­line is ask­ing for do­na­tions this Christ­mas to help fund its work.

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