NSW Police has joined with Lifeline Australia in an awareness campaign for suicide prevention.
Twelve highway patrol vehicles branded with highly visible stickers will promote Lifeline’s “13 HELP” (13 43 57) phone number, which is dedicated to people in bushfire-affected communities.
NSW Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott said many citizens have been thrown several curveballs in the past 12 months, including drought, bushfires, floods and the global COVID-19 pandemic.
“After battling through a severe drought, the Black Summer of bushfires, February floods, and the spread of COVID-19, no-one should feel ashamed or embarrassed to reach out for help,” said Mr Elliott. “We all need someone to talk to sometimes.
“I commend the NSW Police Force for signing up to promote an important awareness campaign. I’m certain the high-visibility patrol vehicles will deliver the message that so many people seek during these difficult times.”
Mr Elliott encouraged people to pick up the phone and express their distress, anger, frustration, anxiety or sadness.
NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Commander, Assistant Commissioner Michael Corboy, said police see first-hand the impact these events have on the community across the state.
“As first responders, police know more than most about the devastating effects these bushfires have had on local communities,” he said.
“We know that things may feel acutely overwhelming at times. We want to remind people when they are at crisis point that police and Lifeline are just two avenues to getting immediate help.”
Lifeline chairman John Brogden said since the dedicated “13 HELP” (13 43 57) phone number launched in February this year it has received more than 28,000 calls from people in bushfire-affected communities.
“We want this campaign to act as a preventative trigger when people may be struggling – and we want people to know there is help at hand at that critical point,” said Mr Brogden.
“The loss and grief caused by the bushfires will continue to impact the mental wellbeing of communities and people, both now and well into the future, and Lifeline will be there to help.”
The campaign will also be promoted on variable message signs across NSW road networks.
The community is also able to contact Lifeline’s 24-hour telephone crisis line on 13 11 14, or visit the Lifeline website.
Police remind the community to always call triple zero (000) for policing help in an emergency. For non-urgent police assistance, call 131 444.