How you can be a vital lifeline for others this Christmas
Lifeline is urgently appealing for more crisis line 'life savers' ahead of Christmas, in a bid to cope with the high demand of calls during the holiday period.
The 24-hour, seven-day-a-week service attracts 2500 calls a day, with volunteers playing a vital role in offering support, guidance and a sympathetic listening ear.
However, with only 200 volunteers rostered on during Christmas nationwide, Lifeline is stretched and in need of more support.
Lifeline ambassador and former Invictus Games competitor Ben Farinazzo told News Corp he would not be alive today if it was not for the angelic-like phone operators taking calls.
He reached out to the service 10 years after leaving the Australian Defence Force (ADF) - where he was part of the International Force for East Timor - because he "knew something was not right" when he left and with his behaviour.
"Even though my boots were back on Australian soil, my head was somewhere else," Mr Farinazzo said.
"I was angry and constantly exhausted, and kept getting overwhelmed with life even though I had a wonderful relationship with my wife, three beautiful kids and owned my home.
"My anxiety and depression levels were through the roof."
It was not until the 45-year-old picked up the phone and rang Lifeline he realised he needed help.
"It was quite confronting," Mr Farinazzo said.
"I had put so much expectation on myself to be the primary bread winner and rock who looked after my wife and children. I never thought I would asking for help, but I'm glad I did.
"It felt like for the first time somebody had actually heard me … and without that initial call I would probably be dead."
Now Mr Farinazzo, who lives in Canberra, is an advocate for mental health discussion and is comfortable with sharing his story and experiences with anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
"Mental illness isn't a death sentence," he said.
"I still have PTSD, anxiety and depression, but I have learnt how to manage it and other people can too.
"Whatever you're dealing with - you may be feeling lost or having a crisis with family - give Lifeline a call. It'll be the best thing you do."
Mr Farinazzo became the ambassador for Lifeline - about 12 months ago - after reaching out to thank the team for the sympathetic listening ear in 2011, and more recently when he fell off a mountain bike and broke his neck and back and needed support.
Making a full recovery and then competing as a powerlifter and rower at the Invictus Games 2018, Mr Farinazzo hopes his experience will inspire others to reach out to Lifeline.
"We need more people on those phones. The more phones that get picked up, the more lives are saved - and we just don't have enough," he said.
"The volunteers are Lifeline are the heavy lifters of this country."
A Lifeline spokeswoman told News Corp volunteers undergo intensive training for about 12 months with in-shift supervision with qualified professionals.
"If a person who calls is feeling suicidal, (our volunteer crisis supports) are trained to assist that person to create a plan that will keep them safe," the spokeswoman said.
"They can also support anyone who is caring for a person who is in distress, helping them through a conversation that will help them keep their loved one safe."
Anyone needing help can call Lifeline on 13 11 14.