The launch of a national 988 suicide crisis line is welcome news for CMHA Vernon.
As of Nov. 30, the local Canadian Mental Health Association branch is one of 40 organizations across Canada that will be answering the new helpline.
"Our crisis line professionals have been providing compassion and assistance to North Okanagan residents since 1975, and we are excited to be part of the evolution to 988 by operating both text and voice response across B.C. and Canada," says executive director Julia Payson.
The 988 helpline is free and confidential and will provide live support by phone and text to everyone in Canada.
It is available in English and French, 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
North Okanagan residents can dial or text 988 or they can access existing services like the the Interior Crisis Line Network at 1-888-353-2273.
Every day in Canada, an average of 12 people die by suicide, and suicide is the second leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 34. Research shows that suicide can be preventable and that crisis services helps save lives.
"With an easily accessible three-digit number, people can receive a prompt response in their moment of need. Many people are struggling, and they do not need be alone," says Emily Hollenbach, CMHA Vernon's director of crisis intervention and prevention.
The 988 line is funded by the federal government and delivered by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and its partners, including CMHA Vernon.
"We want to thank our amazing responders, as well as support staff, who put in countless hours training and adapting to ensure 988 is available to Canadians," said Payson.
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