The Toronto Transit Commission is trying a new approach to prevent suicides in the city's subway system.
Crisis Line facts
- Will be in place in 69 subway stations, 200 posters, 141 payphones.
- The entire subway system will have posters and new payphones installed by the end of July.
- A direct link between Distress Centres of Toronto and the TTC’s Transit Control Centre will invoke emergency procedures when required, including holding trains before they enter stations, slowing subway trains as they enter stations, and dispatching emergency personnel.
- A total of 18 subway suicide incidents occurred in 2009 and 26 subway suicide incidents in 2010. There have been seven to date in 2011.
- Crisis Link's annual budget is $107,000.
Source: The TTC
Called "Crisis Link" and unveiled Thursday, the project will add special buttons to phones on subway platforms that people in distress can push to get immediate help.
Posters in the platforms will read: "Thinking of Suicide? There is help. Let’s talk." The new direct dial button will connect callers with a trained counsellor with Distress Centres of Toronto. The call is free and confidential.
TTC Chair Karen Stintz said the service — which was created in partnership with Bell Canada — will be the first of its kind in Canada.
There were 26 subway suicide incidents on the TTC last year. There have already been seven so far this year.
"We do have suicides every year at the TTC," said Stintz, who unveiled the program at Yonge and Bloor subway station on Thursday. "We wanted to find ways to help people in distress and this is one of the ways that we're doing that."
"If you are in distress and need assistance, we've got buttons on the platform that will hook up directly so that you get immediate crisis support," she said. "We want this program to be a way for people to get help if they need it."