Youth crisis website provides Canadians with emotional support online
'We talk about a lot of the things that a traditional crisis line would talk about with people'
A group in British Columbia has been texting and messaging with Canadians under 30 who are in crisis and need help, including some Islanders.
The website Youthspace.ca, headquartered in Victoria, B.C., offers a place to chat with someone of a similar age for young people who are more comfortable typing rather than talking on the phone.
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Liz Radermacher, the site's manager, says volunteers talk with young people about a range of issues, but the most important thing they are trained to do is listen.
"It operates a lot in the same way as a traditional crisis line, doing emotional support through active listening and helping people manage their crisis in whatever moment they're having," she said.
"We talk about a lot of the things that a traditional crisis line would talk about with people."
3,000 chat requests in 2016-2017
Radermacher said the volunteers at Youthspace.ca range in age between 18 and 30 and are given eight weeks of training in suicide intervention as well as active and reflective listening.
The program started in 2007 and received roughly 130 chat requests in its first year, but now they're reaching more than 3,000 people per year through the website.
She said she's noticed as young people become more comfortable online, they're looking for more text-based services to speak with people one on one.
"In the time I've been with the program … I've seen so many instances of young people say 'I'm not comfortable on phones, I get phone anxiety, I couldn't possibly call the crisis line, I really need something that's online that I can text or type to somebody through a portal like that,'" she said.
Currently, because of the number of young people reaching out to their service, the wait time to speak with a volunteer can sometimes be a little high — averaging around 45 minutes to an hour — but they do often refer to other services available across the country, Radermacher added.
Youthspace is available from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. Atlantic time.
Additionally, Islanders can also call the Island Helpline at 1-800-218-2885.
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With files from Maggie Brown