Ottawa: A nationwide three-digit suicide prevention and mental health crisis hotline in Canada will come into effect in 2023, the country’s broadcasting and telecom regulator announced.
In its announcement on Wednesday, Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) said that the hotline to be launched on November 30, 2023 will adopt 9-8-8 as the number to call or text for Canadians who are in need of immediate mental health crisis and suicide prevention intervention, reports Xinhua news agency.
Once implemented by telephone and wireless service providers, calls and texts to 9-8-8 will be directed to a mental health crisis or suicide prevention service, free of charge, the CRTC said.
It added that the ability to text to 9-8-8 will ensure that people in crisis who are unable to safely call, or prefer texting, are able to obtain counselling.
The same easy-to-remember three-digit hotline has been adopted in the US.
Currently, people in Canada who are experiencing mental health distress can obtain assistance through Talk Suicide Canada by dialing toll-free 1-833-456-4566.
Between 2017 and 2019, there were approximately 4,500 deaths by suicide in Canada every year, which is approximately 12 fatalities every day.
During 2020, the suicide rate for those between 20 and 24 years of age reached 11.7 per 100,000 population.
In 2019, suicide was among the top 10 leading causes of death in Canada.
Some populations experience higher rates and risk of suicide, including men, youth, those aged 45 to 59, those identified as being part of the LGBTQ2 community and certain Indigenous communities, according to the CRTC.