Government of Canada launches three-digit suicide crisis helpline

Press Release

From: Public Health Agency of Canada

9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline available across Canada

November 30, 2023

Today, the Government of Canada is taking an important step to provide suicide prevention support for people who need it, when they need it most. 9-8-8, Canada’s new three-digit suicide crisis helpline, is now available to call or text, in English and French, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, across Canada.

Suicide continues to be a serious public health issue impacting people of all ages and backgrounds, and more needs to be done to support those in crisis. This is why the Government of Canada has provided $156 million over three years to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to implement and operate the 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline. As of today, an experienced network of partners has trained responders ready to answer 9-8-8 calls and texts. Responders will provide support and compassion without judgement. They are here to help callers and texters explore ways to keep themselves safe when things are overwhelming.

The Government of Canada and CAMH have worked closely with partners from across many different sectors in the months leading up to today’s launch. Those partnerships are the foundation of the 9-8-8 network. This includes local partners such as Distress Centres of Greater Toronto and Gerstein Crisis Centre, Distress Centre of Ottawa, Crisis Prevention, Intervention and Information Centre for Northern BC, Canadian Mental Health Association Edmonton and others across the country, as well as national partners such as Kids Help Phone and Hope for Wellness, who will continue to provide dedicated service through 9-8-8 to youth and Indigenous communities. As the 9-8-8 system continues to mature and evolve, PHAC and CAMH will continue to explore ways to build the network and support current and future network partners.

If you or someone you may know is thinking about suicide, call or text 9-8-8.


“Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness. There is hope and resources available for people in need. Starting today, people across Canada have access to an important life-saving service no matter the time of day or where they live. While we celebrate the launch of 9-8-8, we must also acknowledge that this is just the beginning. We will continue to work closely with CAMH, provinces and territories and other important partners to ensure 9-8-8 continues to meet the ever-changing needs of Canda’s diverse populations. There is no health without mental health, and I look forward to the contribution this service will make.”

The Honourable Ya’ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addiction and Associate Minister of Health

“The launch of 9-8-8 is an important step in making suicide prevention resources more readily available to everyone across Canada. 9-8-8 is easy to remember and will provide life-saving services to those who need it the most. Anytime and anywhere, 9-8-8 is always available to help.”

The Honourable Mark Holland
Minister of Health

“The launch of 9-8-8 is an important step towards providing the support and resources needed for suicide prevention, including within Indigenous communities. The inclusion of the Hope for Wellness Helpline in the 9-8-8 network will provide a dedicated service to First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. It will provide culturally appropriate support Indigenous peoples need, when they need it.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu
Minister of Indigenous Services Canada

“9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline is the result of collaboration across geographies, industries and cultures. With our unique expertise as Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, CAMH is honoured to lead the implementation and operation of this life-saving service that extends into every corner of our country. Today’s launch is a crucial step in making sure that everyone in Canada has quick and easy access to suicide prevention support.”

Sarah Downey, President and CEO, CAMH

“As a psychiatrist, I’ve witnessed the transformative power of connection. Even just one conversation can help someone reconnect with their strengths and forge new ways of coping. If you are feeling hopeless, our message to you is: you are not alone. 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline can offer you a non-judgmental space to talk. Whatever you are going through, please know you can always reach out to us.”

Dr. Allison Crawford
Chief Medical Officer, 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline and psychiatrist at CAMH

Quick facts

  • An average of 4,500 people across Canada die by suicide each year – approximately 12 people per day.
  • In August 2022, the Government of Canada welcomed the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) decision to adopt 9-8-8 as the three-digit number to call or text to access suicide prevention and crisis support. Telecommunications companies will activate 9-8-8 by November 30, 2023.
  • To prepare for the launch of 9-8-8, the Government of Canada announced in August 2022 that the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) will lead the coordination of 9-8-8 service delivery, building on its experience delivering Talk Suicide Canada.
  • CAMH is the largest mental health teaching hospital in Canada and one of the world’s leading research centres in its field. CAMH’s role in leading the development of 9-8-8 service delivery in Canada builds on their experience delivering Talk Suicide Canada.
  • The Hope for Wellness Helpline will provide support to 9-8-8 callers in Cree, Ojibway, and Inuktitut, upon request.

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Alexander Fernandes
Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Ya’ara Saks
Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health

Media Relations
Public Health Agency of Canada

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