TTC, Distress Centres extend hope to people at risk
The TTC and Distress Centres extended an agreement that will see the Crisis Link suicide prevention program continue through to July 31, 2018.
TTC Chair Karen Stintz, CEO Andy Byford and Distress Centres Executive Director Karen Letofsky signed a new agreement at TTC Head Office on June 18.
“I greatly value our relationship with Distress Centres and Bell Canada and the benefits Crisis Link has brought to date,” Byford said. “I am committed to do everything possible to reduce the numbers of such tragic incidents on our system and the anguish that they cause to everyone involved.”
The TTC, in partnership with Distress Centres and Bell Canada, provides Crisis Link to offer hope to those at risk of suicide. Bell generously provides the payphones on each subway platform that seamlessly connects someone in distress and contemplating suicide with a Distress Centres counsellor. Mary Deacon, Chair of the Bell Let’s Talk mental health initiative was on hand for the signing.
Every phone call is free and confidential. Counsellors will talk with the caller and assess the risk to the individual who is considering suicide. Distress Centres staff will contact Transit Control to implement the appropriate measures to ensure the individual remains safe.
Since Crisis Link was introduced in 2011, Distress Centres received 218 calls from individuals in distress. Of those, 12 per cent of callers were deemed to have suicidal thoughts that required action by the TTC and police. Another 18 per cent of callers expressed suicidal ideation, but were not deemed to be a threat to harming themselves. Distress Centres have handled an average of 2.75 incidents per month of people contemplating suicide on the TTC. No person has ever attempted suicide on the TTC immediately after speaking with a Crisis Link counsellor.
In 2012, Crisis Link earned the TTC a Corporate Leadership Award from the Canadian Urban Transit Association. The TTC was also the 2011 recipient of the Arnold Devlin Community Service Award, presented by the Ontario Association for Suicide Prevention, in recognition of its suicide prevention programs: Crisis Link, Gatekeeper and Acute Psychological Trauma.
Suicide incidents on the system
2010: 29 incidents.
2011: 16 incidents.
2012: 19 incidents.
2013: nine to date.