National suicide prevention helpline getting around 1,000 calls per day: CAMH

A national suicide prevention hotline meant to help Canadians struggling with mental health challenges is receiving nearly 1,500 calls and texts per day since its launch late last year, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

The 988 helpline, led by CAMH and funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC), was rolled out across the country on Nov. 30, 2023.

“Since the launch, 9-8-8 is receiving approximately 1,000 calls and approximately 450 texts per day,” CAMH told Media in an emailed statement.

The centre said it did not have data available on how many of those calls and texts required emergency services to intervene.

CAMH had previously emphasized that emergency services would not be involved in the majority of calls and texts.“Responders are trained to try all possible ways of supporting the person reaching out before referring them to emergency services,” CAMH said.“If a responder does end up referring someone to emergency services, they will continue to offer them support throughout this process.”

The hotline provides a round-the-clock toll-free texting and calling service to Canadians.

It is for anyone who is thinking about suicide, or who is worrying about someone they know, according to CAMH.

Since the launch, “only minor technical issues” have been raised, which were resolved quickly, the centre said.

In Canada, approximately 12 people die by suicide every day, which amounts to 4,500 deaths per year, according to PHAC.

There is growing research and concern about the mental health toll of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country, particularly among the younger population.

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