Mental health experts say Canada needs a 3-digit suicide crisis hotline – CBC

CRTC began public consultation on a 3-digit hotline more than a year ago

Jul 17, 2022

Pressure is mounting for Canada to establish a three-digit suicide crisis hotline similar to the one implemented by the United States this weekend.

The new 988 mental health hotline American authorities launched on Saturday will, once fully operational, offer residents struggling with suicidal thoughts an easy-to-remember number that will connect them with trained mental health counsellors rather than police.

Mental health advocates have been pushing for a similar system in Canada. The House of Commons unanimously voted in favour of establishing a three-digit suicide prevention number in 2020, but those working in the field of suicide prevention said the “gold standard” now established south of the border makes it clear that Canada has some catching up to do.

Sheryl Boswell, the executive director of Youth Mental Health Canada, said Canada should act fast to establish one.

“We need to adopt best practices from other countries and go beyond that to do much better than what we’re doing,” she said in a telephone interview on Sunday. “Let’s hope it doesn’t take years to adopt 988 in Canada.”

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