CENTRAL Victorian residents are increasingly making use of Lifeline.
According to the help line's latest figures, 1430 central Victorian residents used the service compared with just 677 in July 2012.
March and May were peak periods this year with Lifeline fielding 2262 and 2148 phone calls originating from central Victoria.
Lifeline Central Victoria and Mallee chief executive officer Leo Schultz acknowledged the figures showed some dramatic spikes but said they could be hard to interpret.
"It's hard to say why there are particular peaks of activity," he said.
"But the interesting part is that there's a gradual increase, especially over the last two years.
"I'd like to think it's because of the activity of the SPAN group.
"We wanted to quantify the effect SPAN had had on Bendigo and these figures are one area we can look at, 'Are people in the Bendigo region seeking help more than they used to?', which is one of the aims of the SPAN group.
"That is one of the things that is reflected in those figures."
Mr Schultz said it was also interesting to compare the data to other areas in the state.
"Similar regions in Victoria don't show those increases, the use of Lifeline in those regions, to the extent that we do," he said.
"So we've seen an increase in the use of Lifeline as a service that is not reflected in other regions."
Mr Schultz said stigmas around suicide were breaking down but there was still more work to be done.
"Stigmatizing suicide is an issue so people feel more open to ring Lifeline," he said.
"But people ring Lifeline not only about suicide but also about the crisis they're having in their lives.
"So these crisis could be mental health, relationships, anything that's presenting as a challenge to people.
"The single biggest issue that people ring Lifeline about is relationships.
"But it's not always one issue they ring about."
See this Saturday's Review on pages 22 and 23 for more.