Elizabeth Quay: WA’s biggest Xmas tree shines for Lights for Lifeline

Elizabeth Quay: WA’s biggest Xmas tree shines for Lights for Lifeline

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.

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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.