Lifeline ambassador and former Invictus Games competitor Ben Farinazzo said he would not be alive today if it was not for the Lifeline phone operators taking calls.
Lifeline ambassador and former Invictus Games competitor Ben Farinazzo said he would not be alive today if it was not for the Lifeline phone operators taking calls.

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.

Ben Farinazzo says the volunteers at Lifeline saved his life and helped him deal with his mental health. Picture: Supplied
Ben Farinazzo says the volunteers at Lifeline saved his life and helped him deal with his mental health. Picture: Supplied

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.

Ben Farinazzo says he “knew something was not right” when he left the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in 2001. Picture: Supplied
Ben Farinazzo says he “knew something was not right” when he left the Australian Defence Force (ADF) in 2001. Picture: Supplied

"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."

Ben Farinazzo (back) with his family and David Beckham at the Invictus Games. Picture: Supplied
Ben Farinazzo (back) with his family and David Beckham at the Invictus Games. Picture: Supplied

 

Ben Farinazzo competing in powerlifting at the Invictus Games. Picture: Supplied
Ben Farinazzo competing in powerlifting at the Invictus Games. Picture: Supplied

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.

MORE NEWS

'It's not over yet': NZ divers sent to find two bodies

Flights cancelled as Jetstar workers strike

Andrew sex assault claims 'nonsense'

"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."

Ben Farinazzo competing in rowing at the Invictus Games. Picture: Supplied
Ben Farinazzo competing in rowing at the Invictus Games. Picture: Supplied

 

Ben Farinazzo says he is proud about his experiences and opening to sharing his story to inspire others. Picture: Supplied
Ben Farinazzo says he is proud about his experiences and opening to sharing his story to inspire others. Picture: Supplied

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.

Ben Farinazzo while serving in the ADF. Picture: Supplied
Ben Farinazzo while serving in the ADF. Picture: Supplied

 

Ben Farinazzo in hospital when he broke his neck and back. Picture: Supplied
Ben Farinazzo in hospital when he broke his neck and back. Picture: Supplied

"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.


Dalby man allegedly linked to silenced gun applies for bail

Premium Content Dalby man allegedly linked to silenced gun applies for bail

IT WILL be alleged the man’s fingerprints were found on a silenced shorten firearm...

AMAZING DEAL: Read it all for $3 a week for first 12 weeks

Premium Content AMAZING DEAL: Read it all for $3 a week for first 12 weeks

You get access to local and regional news and the Courier Mail

Chinchilla organisation hopes to change course for at-risk teens

Premium Content Chinchilla organisation hopes to change course for at-risk...

THE Chinchilla organisation is hoping to help tackle the rampant youth crime...