Calls to suicide crisis lines surge during lockdown – Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser

Calls to suicide crisis lines surge during lockdown – Campbelltown-Macarthur Advertiser
– Kayla Osborne


The recent COVID-19 lockdown has led to a 30 per cent rise in calls to the Parents Beyond Breakup (PBB) national suicide helpline compared to the same time last year.

PBB chief executive Gillian Hunt said many Macarthur residents had been impacted by the ongoing mental and emotional impacts of the stay-at-home orders, including men experiencing family separation.

“PBB started working with Southwestern Sydney Primary Health Network in November last year, with the aim to establish support groups specifically for suicidal non-custodial dads in this high-risk area,” she said.

“Since then, we have established several Peer Support Groups and our efforts are seeing a major turnaround in the support provided.

“Without doubt, support being accessed by separating men in the Macarthur region has grown at an astonishing rate during and related to COVID in general, and more specifically to lockdown restrictions more recently.”

Ms Hunt said more Macarthur men were seeking support than ever before.

“Prior to COVID, looking back historically, our national support services would typically only hear from a very small handful of men each month in the Macarthur region, rarely more than 10 in any given month,” she said.

“Today we are variously supporting between 50-75 per month, ranging from accessing us at in-person support groups, online support meetings or via telephone helpline and social media messaging.

“The increase is 500 per cent to 750 per cent in just over 18 months.

“Our work nationally and locally in south-western Sydney has exploded and the need for support is growing by the day.”

Ms Hunt said 40 per cent of the increased calls to PBB’s suicide hotline were coming from non-custodial parents in New South Wales.

“Primarily the causes of their distress remain issues with lack of access to their children, situational distress which is known to be one of the biggest triggers for suicide in men in Australia,” she said.

“The trauma of the COVID pandemic compounded with the situational distress that non-custodial parents are enduring is having a marked impact upon our most vulnerable separated parents.”

PBB runs several peer support groups in the Macarthur region, however Ms Hunt said more support was needed.

“Within Macarthur we desperately need volunteers to help manage the peer support groups (peers that are themselves separated dads) and in general to help raise local awareness,” she said.

“We are a lean charity, and we rely heavily on the support of volunteer facilitators across the country, as well as on community-based venues provided either free or a low cost, to run our support groups.

“We also need more access to free venues across the region to allow additional meetings to take place and for those that are currently limited by hire costs, to be continued or expanded.”

PBB peer support groups in Macarthur include:

  • Campbelltown – 3.30pm, weekly on Sundays
  • Oran Park – 12.30pm, weekly on Sundays
  • Glenfield – 7.00pm, weekly on Mondays
  • Camden – 7.00pm, 3rd Friday each month

During COVID restrictions, the above face to face meetings are replaced with online Zoom meetings at the same times.


If you, or someone you know, is experiencing a personal crisis or distress, please seek help immediately by calling 000 or one of these services:

  • PBB hotline: 1300 853 437 (between 8.30am and 5pm, Monday to Saturday)
  • Lifeline: 13 11 14
  • Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
  • NSW Mental Health Line: 1800 011 511