On August 31, 2022, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) announced that it will be using 9-8-8 as an emergency contact line for individuals requiring immediate mental health assistance. The line will be available for use across Canada starting on November 30, 2023.
Based on trends and reports released by Statistics Canada, the pandemic had a significant impact on Canadian’s mental health. In 2021, the second year of the Covid-19 pandemic, 4.2 per cent of Canadian adults reported having suicidal thoughts. This is an increase from 2.7 per cent in 2019, shortly before the pandemic started.
The Canadian Government revealed that suicide is the ninth leading cause of death in Canada. On average, 10 people commit suicide every day for an approximate 4,000 deaths by suicide annually. This problem is particularly apparent among the younger population, with suicide being the second leading cause of death for Canadians aged 10 to 29.
The chairperson and CEO of CRTC, Ian Scott, stated that the implementation of the 9-8-8 hotline is “a significant step in making mental health and suicide prevention resources more accessible to everyone in Canada.” The hotline can be used by any individual requiring immediate care and is available free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Scott emphasizes that mental health is an important issue and should be taken seriously. “Although much work is left to be done to bring help to people who need it, we have set accelerated timelines to ensure that 9-8-8 is implemented as quickly and as efficiently as possible.”
Today, there are numerous suicide prevention resources available to Canadians. For example, Talk Suicide Canada is accessible toll-free at 1-833-456-4566. Additionally, the Hope for Wellness Help Line provides specialized support to Indigenous Peoples across Canada. They can be reached at 1-855-242-3310 or online through the Hope for Wellness chat.
According to the World Health Organization, suicides are preventable. Measures taken by communities and individuals can save lives. The introduction of the 9-8-8 hotline provides another method of prevention for the Canadian population.
Staff Writer (Volume 49); Associate News Editor (Volume 48) — Razia Saleh is currently completing a Biology degree at UTM. She has been involved with The Medium since 2020 as a contributor and continued to write for The Medium as an Associate News Editor during Volume 48. She hopes that her experience as a writer with The Medium will help her contribute to society's efforts to provide authentic and factual journalistic media to educate her readers. She hopes to take her interest in ongoing research within the scientific field and explore ways to share it with others through this platform. In her spare time, she paints natural landscapes inspired by her travels and enjoy a few live concerts throughout the year. You can connect with her on Linkedin.