You are never alone, Crisis Centre reminds everyone on World Suicide Prevention Day
Centre can be reached at 1-800-SUICIDE any time of day or night for non-judgmental support
With volunteers at the Crisis Centre of BC helping more people than usual during the pandemic, the centre's executive director wants vulnerable British Columbians to know that help is always a phone call away.
"Reach out. You're certainly not alone. You might feel like you're alone but you are certainly not the only one who is feeling that way," said Stacy Ashton on CBC's The Early Edition on Thursday, which is World Suicide Prevention Day.
The designated day, which falls every year on Sept. 10 and is organized by the International Association for Suicide Prevention, aims to raise awareness around the globe that suicide can be prevented.
And preventing suicides is exactly what the volunteers on the other end of the phone at the Crisis Centre of BC are trained to do.
25% call increase
According to Ashton, overall calls to the centre have gone up 25 per cent since the first pandemic measures were put in place in March. Of those calls, she said, about 15 per cent are related to suicide contemplation or attempts.
"It's a fairly normal response to extreme stress," said Ashton. "It's a gap between where your coping skills are at and the amount of pain you are in — and when that gap is too big, anyone will have some kind of suicidal thinking."
Statistics Canada data shows, on average, more than 10 Canadians die by suicide every day.
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), suicide is the second-most common cause of death among young people, but the highest rate of suicide is among men in their 40s and 50s.
While women are three to four times more likely to attempt suicide than men, men are three times more likely to die because they tend to use more lethal means and are much less likely to seek help.
Risk factors, according to the CMHA, include: previous suicide attempts, family history of suicidal behaviour, physical or mental illness, substance use, a major loss or life change, family violence and social isolation.
The final factor has been exacerbated by pandemic circumstances.
"Isolation can take away some of the coping strategies you once had," said Ashton, who added that before COVID-19 health measures were in place, people could seek support from others or spend time in places that comforted them.
Volunteers at the crisis centre are trained crisis service responders and are available 24/7. Ashton said only two per cent of total calls require a third-party intervention by first responders.
The overwhelming majority of callers, she said, talk it out and, with the help of their volunteer contact, create a plan that will help their mental wellbeing.
If you, or someone you know, needs support during this unprecedented time — or ever — the Crisis Centre of BC can be reached in the following ways:
- Anywhere in B.C.: 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
- Mental Health Support Line: 310-6789 (no area code needed)
- Vancouver Coastal Regional Distress Line: 604-872-3311
- Sunshine Coast/Sea to Sky: 1-866-661-3311
- Online Chat Service for Youth: YouthInBC.com (Noon to 1 a.m. PT)
- Online Chat Service for Adults: CrisisCentreChat.ca (Noon to 1 a.m. PT)
With files from The Early Edition