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World Suicide Prevention Day – We need to talk about youth and suicide

World Suicide Prevention Day – We need to talk about youth and suicide

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day. Young people face significant internal and external stressors, including the social, physiological and neurological changes they experience during the awkward and transitional teen years.

Following the disruptive and isolating onset of the pandemic, emergency department visits for suicide attempted by youth under 18 increased and hospital visits for youth experiencing suicidal ideation also increased, according to a University of Calgary study.

When youth are facing these difficult situations and emotions, it helps to be able to speak with a peer around their own age, who can better understand what they’re going through. That’s where ConnecTeen comes in – Distress Centre’s youth program.

ConnecTeen provides 24 hour crisis and emotional support to youth by phone, text and chat. From 3-10pm on weekdays and 12-10pm on weeknights, highly trained youth volunteers respond to the contacts.

“There’s a different sense of camaraderie that comes from knowing that you’re speaking to someone who’s of a similar generation to you who gets it. You just can’t teach that experience. You have to live it,” said ConnecTeen volunteer Altamish, on the importance of peer support.

On the ConnecTeen lines, suicide is the top issue. 1 in 3 ConnecTeen contacts are suicide-related.

In 2023 so far (up to July 31st), we’ve responded to 2586 ConnecTeen contacts and of them, 591 were related to suicide.

ConnecTeen marks 40 years of operations in 2023. ConnecTeen first launched as the Teen Line in 1983. Though the slang, technology and name has changed, the work has remained the same: providing a safe space for teens and youth to talk through the problems in their life.

“It’s been well-documented that youth today are struggling with their mental health, with suicide attempts and ideation rising globally during the pandemic,” said Robyn Romano, CEO at Distress Centre. “While celebrating it’s 40th birthday this year, our ConnecTeen program is more important than ever. With community support, I know we will continue to help Calgary youth for years to come.”

In the last decade, ConnecTeen has responded to over 45,000 contacts.

Youth can contact ConnecTeen 24 hours a day:

Phone: 403-264-TEEN (8336)
Text: 587-333-2724
Chat: CalgaryConnecTeen.com

Youth-to-youth support is available from 3-10pm on weeknights and 12-10pm on weekends.

Thoughts of suicide impact people at every age. Find resources here.

Want to get involved?

In the spirit of respect, reciprocity and truth, Distress Centre Calgary would like to honour and acknowledge Moh’kinsstis, and the traditional Treaty 7 territory and oral practices of the Blackfoot confederacy: Siksika, Kainai, Piikani, as well as the Îyâxe Nakoda and Tsuut’ina nations. We acknowledge that this territory is home to the Métis Nation of Alberta, Region 3 within the historical Northwest Métis homeland. Finally, we acknowledge all Nations – Indigenous and non – who live, work and play on this land, and who honour and celebrate this territory.