Manitoba help line announces new support services on World Suicide Prevention Day

Organizers with Klinic and the Winnipeg Suicide Prevent Network marked World Suicide Prevention day Friday with an event at Vimy Ridge Park.

'Suicide is not the answer,' says organizer with Manitoba Suicide Prevention and Support Line

Dozens of people came together at Vimy Ridge Park in Winnipeg Friday afternoon for World Suicide Prevention Day. (CBC)

Organizers with Klinic and the Winnipeg Suicide Prevent Network marked World Suicide Prevention day Friday with an event at Vimy Ridge Park.

"Suicide is not the answer," Janet Smith, suicide prevention manager at Klinic, told CBC News. "There is hope and there is help."

Smith said the groups used the national day of awareness to announced the renaming of the Manitoba Suicide Help Line to the Manitoba Suicide Prevention and Support Line. The change coincides with the relaunching of the Reason to Live website, which is designed to help spread suicide prevention awareness and redirect people in need to the 24/7 confidential help line.

Janet Smith is the suicide prevention awareness co-ordinator with Klinic in Winnipeg. (CBC)

"Everyone has a reason to live, even if that reason is buried and not apparent to them in that moment of crisis," Smith said. "There always is a reason to live and we as counsellors help them connect to their reasons to live."

The help line is available to people at risk of suicide, as well as those with someone in their lives who could benefit from help.

Smith said the help line gets about 3,500 calls annually. It's managed by volunteers trained as suicide prevention counsellors that are there to listen, Smith said.

"It's Manitoba's only dedicated suicide prevention line," Smith said. "We opened the line because we wanted to ensure that anyone who is at risk had access to this service."

Smith said the latest stats on suicide in Manitoba are from 2012. That year, 165 people took their own life, she said.

Worldwide, Smith said experts believe more than one million people kill themselves every year.

"It is a very important public health concern," Smith said. "The message is suicide can, in the majority of cases, be prevented, if we talk about it, if we learn the warning signs and if we connect people to helpful resources, and connect them to their own sense of hope, which is the thing that is most lacking when a person is at risk of suicide."

More information on suicide prevention is available on the Reason to Live website or by calling 1-877-435-7170.