Crisis Line in crisis

Confidential phone lines for mental health support face closure because of a lack of funding

  • May. 10, 2013 3:00 p.m.

The Crisis Line Association of BC has only another month in which to secure sustained, annualized funding for their 1800SUICIDE and 310Mental Health Support Line networks. These networks enhance immediate access to 24-hour crisis line services for anyone in the province with suicide or mental health issues and/or concerns. Without immediate forthcoming funding, the networks will cease to exist after June 30, 2013.

CLABC developed the networks to enhance crisis line accessibility and launched 1800SUICIDE in 2004 followed by the 310Mental Health Support Line in 2008. The easy to remember, toll-free numbers use routing technology to direct calls to the nearest network crisis line partner. During times when demand for service is high, calls are automatically re-routed to other crisis lines thereby increasing response capacity. Efforts to replicate the success of these networks are currently underway at a national level across Canada.

1800SUICIDE and 310Mental Health Support Line network crisis line partners have now responded to more than 50,000 successfully routed calls. This is no surprise given that phones on both the Lions Gate and Iron Workers Memorial bridges immediately connect callers to 1800SUICIDE and a quick Google search returns many websites including Ministry of Health, Erase Bullying, and HealthlinkBC which cite the network numbers as resources.

Once connected to a crisis line, callers receive support and information intended to increase their ability to cope with whatever it is that has caused their distress. This cost-effective service can be life-saving while at the same time decreasing demand on overburdened police, ambulance and hospital resources.

Network partner crisis line call-takers – many pursuing careers in professions such as policing, medicine, teaching, mental health and social work – take their knowledge, skill and ability back into their communities, which significantly increases this province’s safety-net and response capacity.