9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline

Backgrounder

November 2023

Starting November 30, 2023, the 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline, Canada's new, national three-digit number for suicide prevention and emotional distress will be available to everyone in Canada. Funded by the Government of Canada and led by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 9-8-8 will be:

  • available by phone and text;
  • provided in English and French; and
  • accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Canada's 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline builds on Talk Suicide Canada's model, where existing distress and crisis services across the country will form the 9-8-8 responder network. Experienced, well-trained partners across the country will be available to provide support where and when people need it the most.

How does 9-8-8 work

The 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline will offer 24/7/365, trauma-informed and culturally appropriate suicide prevention crisis support in English and French by phone and text for everyone living in Canada.

When someone reaches out to 9-8-8, they will be connected to the responder who is closest to them, based on their area code. In the event that a local responder is not available, the call or text will be routed to another 9-8-8 partner or the national hub that will provide support, ensuring that calls and texts to 9-8-8 are answered.

Crisis responders will answer 9-8-8 calls and texts, drawing on their extensive training. Training includes how to assess suicide risk, how to be an active listener and how to work with the person they are supporting on coping techniques and creating a safety plan.

Depending on where they live, callers will also be able to select an option to receive specialized support for youth or Indigenous communities. Kids Help Phone will be one of the partners delivering specialized support for youth, and Hope for Wellness will provide specialized support for Indigenous callers.

What Happens When You Call or Text 9-8-8

  1. Whether calling or texting, you will get confirmation that you have reached 9-8-8.
  2. You will be asked to select if you would like support in English or French.
  3. Depending on where you liveFootnote *, when you call, additional options may be available to you:
    • You will be asked to select if you would like specialized support for First Nations, Inuit and M├ętis.
    • You will be asked if you are under 18 to receive specialized youth support.
  4. You will also receive a privacy statement:
    • If you call: you will be informed that the call may be monitored and recorded for quality and training purposes, and provided information on how you can access 9-8-8 Terms and Conditions online.
    • If you text: you will be informed that a transcript of the text conversation may be saved, and be provided a link to access 9-8-8 Terms and Conditions online.
  5. You will receive a message that you are being routed to a responder.
  6. A trained responder will answer your call or text.

Footnote

Footnote *

You may receive a message that you are being connected to your provincial service when connecting to 9-8-8 if you are located in Quebec, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick.

Return to footnote * referrer

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