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9-8-8 suicide crisis hotline set to launch Nov. 30, Ottawa provides $156 million to CAMH to support it

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July 24, 2023
By Talent Canada


Sarah Downey, president and CEO, CAMH

9-8-8, the national suicide crisis helpline, is launching across Canada on Nov. 30 — and the federal government has announced $156 million in funding over three years to support it.

The money will go to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) for the implementation and operation of the 9-8-8 service, the three-digit number for suicide prevention and emotional distress.

Carolyn Bennet, the federal Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, also said Ottawa is giving another $21.4 million to CAMH to help it bolster the capacity of distress centres that are part of the existing Talk Suicide Canada network, so as to better meet increased demand and prepare for 9-8-8 implementation.

“Every day, an average of 12 people die by suicide in Canada. Our hearts go out to all families, and loved ones who have been affected by suicide. We are taking action to support people across the country who are in crisis or experiencing suicidal thoughts,” said Bennet. “Today’s investments take us one step closer to launching the 9-8-8 Suicide Crisis Helpline, which will provide an immediate, confidential, and judgement-free suicide prevention support for Canadians in need – when they need it most.”

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Sarah Downey, president and CEO of CAMH, said it was “honoured” to be leading and co-ordinating the rollout of 9-8-8.

“This three-digit service will provide life-saving support to people who are facing their most challenging moments,” said Downey. “We’re proud to be working closely with partners across the country to bring this important service to everyone in Canada”

24-hour help

As of Nov. 30, 2023, the 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline will be available in English and French, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, to everyone in Canada. This easy to remember, three-digit number will make it simple for people to access the help they need, when they need it most.

The 9-8-8 service will offer trauma-informed and culturally appropriate crisis services, and will be delivered by trained crisis responders using best practices, procedures and protocols, the federal government said in a press release. Implementation and delivery of the 9-8-8 service will continue to be informed by ongoing engagement with CAMH, provinces and territories, and organizations representing populations most affected by suicide.

While work is underway to implement the 9-8-8: Suicide Crisis Helpline, people in Canada continue to have access to Talk Suicide Canada, which offers bilingual crisis and suicide prevention support, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Talk Suicide can be reached at 1-833-456-4566 by phone, and by text (in the evenings) at 45645. Residents of Quebec can call 1-866-277-3553, text 535353, or visit suicide.ca for support by online chat. People in Canada can also find support from their local distress centres.

Quick facts

  • In August 2022, the Government of Canada welcomed the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission’s (CRTC) decision to adopt 9-8-8 as the three-digit number to dial or text to access suicide prevention and crisis support. As highlighted in the CRTC’s determinations, telecommunications companies will activate 9-8-8 by Nov.  30, 2023.
  • To prepare for the launch of 9-8-8, the Government of Canada announced in August 2022 that the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) will lead the coordination of 9-8-8 service delivery, building on its experience delivering Talk Suicide Canada.
  • Throughout summer 2023, CAMH plans to onboard over 40 organizations across Canada to the 9-8-8 network, including Kids Help Phone.
  • CAMH is the largest mental health teaching hospital in Canada and one of the world’s leading research centres in its field. CAMH’s role in leading the development of 9-8-8 service delivery in Canada builds on their experience delivering Talk Suicide Canada.
  • If an individual is interested in becoming a responder, they can visit the Talk Suicide Canada website at Volunteer with Talk Suicide Canada or Work with Talk Suicide Canada.


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