Columbia Valley Pioneer staff

A new crisis helpline in Canada is just three digits away in offering suicide prevention support for people suffering in silence.

9-8-8 is available to call or text 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Highly trained responders provide support and compassion without judgment, helping callers and texters to explore ways to keep themselves safe during an overwhelming situation.

“Asking for help is a strength, not a weakness,” says Minister of Mental Health and Addiction Ya’ara Saks, who adds there is no health without mental health.

Patty Hajdu, Minister of Indigenous Services Canada, says including the ‘Hope for Wellness Helpline in the 9-8-8 network will provide a dedicated service to First Nations, Inuit and Métis by offering culturally appropriate support.

Dr. Allison Crawford, psychiatrist and the helpline’s chief medical officer, says 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. Whatever you are going through, please know you can always reach out to us.”

According to the Government of Canada, an average of 4,500 people across the country die by suicide each year – that’s approximately 12 people every day.

People who are worried about others taking their own lives are encouraged to open up a conversation with them. The person in crisis will likely be relieved that the issue was brought up and that they are not alone in their struggle.