Canada will be launching a new nationwide three-digit 988 suicide hotline on November 30th, which will provide Canadians dealing with mental health challenges with a free texting or calling service.
Former Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett made the announcement Monday, along with a commitment to invest $156 million over three years in the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to facilitate the hotline.
“Every day, an average of 12 people die by suicide in Canada,” said Bennett in a news release.
“We are taking action to support people across the country who are in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts. Today’s investments take us one step closer to launching the 9-8-8 Suicide Crisis Helpline, which will provide an immediate, confidential, and judgement-free suicide prevention support for Canadians in need – when they need it most.”
The implementation of a three-digit national crisis hotline has been a long way in the making.
Conservative MP Todd Doherty first proposed the idea in December 2020 and introduced a motion on the matter before the House of Commons, which passed unanimously.
The Trudeau government then formally announced the hotline in August 2022.
Bennett said the government has been working with partners, including the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), ahead of the launch.
One of the things that needed to be addressed was the implementation of 10 digit dialing nationwide.
The United States implemented a 988 suicide hotline in July of last year – which has since handled millions of inquiries.
Bennett says Canada has “been working closely with our American counterparts on the implementation process and learning from their experience in launching and delivering this service.”
While the new three-digit hotline hasn’t yet launched in Canada, mental health support remains available for Canadians in need.
Talk Suicide Canada can be reached by calling 1-833-456-4566, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, or via text to 45645 in the evenings. This service offers bilingual crisis and suicide prevention support.
Residents of Quebec can also call 1-866-277-3553 or visit suicide.ca for support by text and online chat.
Children and young adults in Canada in need of mental health support and crisis services can contact the Kids Help Phone, or text CONNECT to 686868 from anywhere in Canada, any time, about anything.