In the wake of the suicide of Grade 10 Coquitlam student Amanda Todd Vancouver Island teens are increasing their use of crisis line resources.
Heather Owen, Community Relations Coordinator of the Crisis Line Association of B.C., says there has been a noticeable increase in calls to crisis lines on the Island. “It’s like a light turning on,” she says. “Teens seem to be more aware that there are resources out there and that it is a good thing when they put those resources in play.”
Owen says that teens using social media have tended to be there for their friends but not stray out of their teen networks to seek help. Amanda has changed that, she says.
The association coordinator says one example of a young person reaching out for help because of the Amanda Todd case occurred in Nanaimo where a teen used the TNT (Teens Networking Together) app to warn authorities about a distressed teen in the Fraser Valley. TNT is a joint project of the Crisis Society of Central Vancouver Island, the RCMP and School District #68 that is in its second year.
“Amanda has touched thousands of people and raised the issue of youth suicide causing many to ask if there is more they can be doing for those around them. We all have a role to play in being aware of the signs of suicide and responding when we see them,” Owen says.
“B.C.’s crisis lines provide over 3.7 million minutes of empowering, evidence‐based support each year to the people across the province. But even with that commitment and reach, there are still some who do not know of the critical services crisis lines provide.”
The Vancouver Island crisis line number is 1-888-494-3888. Professional certified crisis workers are available to provide support around bullying, depression, thoughts of suicide and other issues. In addition, several crisis lines also provide support through online chat services so young people have a web‐based way to reach out. These services can be reached through www.northernyouthonline.ca or www.youthinbc.ca.
Here are some signs that someone you know may need help:
- Changes in behavior such as increased use of alcohol or other drugs, increased or decreased sleeping or eating, decreased self‐care;
- A negative outlook with no positive future;
- Changes in mood, crying easily, depressed, frequently agitated or anxious;
- Warnings such as saying “Life isn’t worth it” or “Things would be better if I were gone”; jokes, poems or art about suicide;
- Preparations for death such as saying goodbye, making a will, giving away prized possessions and talking about going away;
- Impulsiveness without thought of risks or consequences; outburst or aggression;
- Recent intentional self-harm or suicide attempts.
“If you recognize any of these signs in someone or are concerned, it is important to know that talking can help. You can reach out and let the person know you care; be a supportive listener; offer help by finding out who they can talk to – a relative, counselor, teacher, clergy member, doctor or crisis centre,” Owen says.
“Never promise to keep a suicide plan secret. And remember that 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433) is available to anyone, anywhere, any time. Finally, take them to a hospital, mental health clinic or suicide prevention counselor if they cannot assure their own safety.”