September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day and Distress Centre wants anyone experiencing suicidal thoughts or struggling with their mental health to know that help is available. We offer 24/7 phone support, professional counselling and daily online chat support and text support for youth.
In 2019 Distress Centre has observed that people prefer to talk about suicide through online methods, rather than on the phone. As of August 31st, suicide has been a presenting issue on 27.3% of online contacts, compared to just 10.2% of calls. For our youth crisis program, ConnecTeen, suicide has been a presenting issue on 33% of online contacts.
Distress Centre’s Executive Director, Jerilyn Dressler, believes this difference exists because many people feel more comfortable discussing sensitive and stigmatized topics like suicide online.
“Online service users are more than twice as likely to discuss suicide compared to those who reach out to us over the phone,” Jerilyn said. “It can be very scary to open up to someone when you are having suicidal thoughts. Getting help online is a more confidential, comfortable way for many people to talk about suicide.”
For Distress Centre, this illustrates how important it is for our agency to continue to grow our online services program to remove barriers that may prevent someone from reaching out to us. We are working to expand our online chat hours, with the goal to eventually offer online chat 24/7. We are also working to offer crisis support by text. Currently only ConnecTeen provides text support and it is the most popular contact mode for that program.
Funding and volunteers are needed to reach these goals. We recently introduced the Online Services volunteer role to provide more coverage for online shifts. We have been expanding our online chat hours over the last several years. We want to ensure that we are able to handle the increased demand and still provide the highest quality support to our service users.
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