Help should only be 3-digits away

Chris Clegg
South Peace News

There is no dispute that calling 911 for emergencies has been a resounding success.

So why not a second line, 988, for suicide prevention?

Peace River – Westlock MP Arnold Viersen is proposing the nationwide second line.

“Currently, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline in Canada is a standard 10-digit number that, I would argue, is an unnecessary barrier,” says Viersen.

“When someone is in crisis and at the point where they want to ask for help, a simple three-digit and easy to remember number could make the difference between a life saved and a life lost.”

Viersen has set out to make the new number a reality. He and Conservative MP Todd Doherty, recently tabled a motion in Parliament to consolidate existing suicide prevention services into one national 988 number that is accessible to all Canadians.

“Here [in Canada], there is no reason why we cannot do the same,” says Viersen.

Canada’s Suicide Prevention Hotline has experienced a call increase of 200 per cent during the recent pandemic, which started in March.

“Imagine calling 911 during an emergency and being asked to hold the line, or worse, getting an automated message,” says Viersen.

“This is unacceptable.”

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