The Northern Territory government has refused further funding for Lifeline Top End.

The suicide prevention service has provided face-to-face counselling for over a decade, but has now closed the doors on its Darwin shopfront service.

Lifeline had asked the NT Government for $450,000 a year for its 35 trained volunteer staff.

But Andrew Warton, chair of the Lifeline Top End board, says the group was offered no increase on its current funding level of $200,000 a year.

The need for an anti-suicide service could hardly be greater than in the Northern Territory, where the suicide rate is the highest in the country.

The previous Country Liberal party government reportedly cut funding to Lifeline Top End by $150,000 a year in 2015-16, leaving it reliant on community support and intensive fundraising for the past year.

NT health minister Natasha Fyles says her department has determined that $200,000 was “more than enough” for Lifeline to fulfil its contracts.

But that money is for phone services only, indicating the government considers the face-to-face shopfront services extraneous.

She said on Monday that the government was negotiating with Lifeline Australia, but later told reporters that it had to spend “finite tax dollars in the most appropriate way”.

“Lifeline wanted close to half a million dollars but the NT government was not in a position to provide that amount for any additional services here in the territory,” she said.

Ms Fyles said the government is now taking an “evidence-based approach” to funding efforts to halve the suicide rate.

“We’re rolling out a number of other key initiatives, including $3m for supported accommodation to Territorians in need,” Fyles said.

“It’s an absolutely important area and this government is committed to this space.”