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MPs push for suicide hotline as COVID-19 continues to take psychological toll

MPs push for suicide hotline as COVID-19 continues to take psychological toll

Todd Doherty nonetheless remembers the despair he felt when he discovered considered one of his closest mates took his personal life at age 14.

The day it occurred, Doherty and a gaggle of mates had gone swimming and have been laughing and joking on their manner dwelling. All appeared completely regular till the following day, when his pal didn’t come to high school.

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Virtually 4 many years on, Doherty torments himself about whether or not he may have carried out one thing to cease his pal from killing himself.

“He was considered one of my finest mates,” the B.C. Conservative member of Parliament instructed The Canadian Press. “I reside that day time and again.”

But the tragedy additionally impressed Doherty to attempt to assist others, which is why he spearheaded a push within the Home of Commons final December to determine a three-digit nationwide suicide prevention hotline: 988.

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Doherty’s movement to take “fast motion” to determine the suicide prevention hotline was authorized within the Commons in December 2020, with unanimous help amongst MPs, every of whom Doherty had contacted personally.


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However greater than a 12 months later, the disaster hotline has nonetheless not been activated. That has prompted questions and issues, significantly because the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on Canadians’ psychological well being.

“We have to do no matter we will to guard the well-being of Canadians and save lives,” Doherty mentioned.

Doherty and others had hoped the hotline could be up and working by the tip of 2021. As a substitute, it’s the topic of consultations being led by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Fee (CRTC).

The CRTC launched the consultations in June “to listen to from Canadians on whether or not a nationwide three-digit quantity for psychological well being disaster and suicide prevention service needs to be established, and the way to take action,” spokeswoman Isabella Maestri mentioned in an announcement.

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“The knowledge obtained from Canadians and different events will assist the fee higher perceive the challenges and options, benefits, and prices related to implementing a three-digit quantity for psychological well being disaster and suicide prevention companies.”

The present spherical of consultations will finish on Jan. 31, she added, although individuals may have till mid-March to submit responses.

That doesn’t sit effectively with Conservative MP Mike Lake, who not too long ago raised questions within the Home of Commons about why it was taking so lengthy to determine the hotline.

“One would have thought presently of 12 months it could have been launched. It shouldn’t take this lengthy,” the Alberta MP mentioned in an interview. “A suicide prevention hotline needs to be a precedence. There are 1,000,000 causes to expedite this.”


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Statistics Canada says 11 individuals die by suicide every day, and that there are round 4,000 deaths by suicide per 12 months.

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Suicide charges are constantly increased amongst Indigenous individuals in Canada, significantly younger individuals. From 2011 to 2016, the suicide price was thrice increased than among the many non-Indigenous inhabitants, based on Statistics Canada.

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Psychological Well being Minister Carolyn Bennett’s workplace in an announcement mentioned the Liberal authorities stays dedicated to funding a nationwide three-digit disaster line for psychological well being and suicide prevention.

However whereas Bennett’s workplace mentioned they “perceive the urgency of implementing this disaster line,” it mentioned the difficulty at the moment rests with the CRTC.

The Canadian Suicide Prevention Service already operates an 11-digit suicide helpline, however Dr. Allison Crawford, the service’s chief medical officer, mentioned a three-digit dialing code could be far simpler to recollect.

“With this new quantity, extra individuals will be capable to get help from educated responders, which may scale back the burden on companies that present different kinds of psychological health-related help,” she mentioned.

For each one that commits suicide, there are an estimated 20 to 25 makes an attempt, the Prevention Service mentioned. A mean of 275 individuals try suicide in Canada every single day.




© 2021 The Canadian Press

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