A helpline which counsels 2,000 people a year through depression faces closure because of a cash crisis.

Volunteers working for the Mental Health Line need to raise £10,000 in three months to keep the service going after losing access to several key grants.

The scheme was set up in Brighton and Hove nine years ago and offers help to people feeling lonely, depressed and suicidal.

Research has shown 13.8 people per 100,000 in Brighton and Hove commit suicide. The national average is ten per 100,000.

Mental Health Line operations manager John Milsom said: "If we can't raise the money there will be a number of vulnerable people in the community left without support.

"People who have received treatment for their mental illness have the service written into their care plans to give them something to turn to out-of-hours. If the line closes they will be left in a more isolated position than ever before."

The Mental Health Line has 35 volunteers and is part of the national charity Rethink.

It was funded through a series of grants available from social services but the Government has centralised all mental health funding.

It now gets money from Brighton and Hove Primary Care Trust (PCT).

Mr Milsom said: "The PCT gives us about £23,000 each year but we need another £10,000. If we are able to get this amount we can get through the next 12 months and be in a good position to renegotiate with the PCT for the following year.

"We are hoping some generous individuals might get in touch along with one or two of the large employers who have a lot of money in their community chests."

Anyone wishing to donate should call 01273 383792. The charity has until June 30 to raise the money.