A three-digit, national suicide prevention hotline is closer to reality after a new bill was passed in Parliament.
Mark Strahl, MP for Chilliwack-Hope, seconded the private members Bill C-294, to implement 9-8-8, a national suicide prevention hotline on Friday, May 7.
Todd Doherty, MP for Caribou-Prince George, introduced the motion for the bill on Dec. 11, 2020 and it received unanimous consent.
“It’s been 147 days since we passed my 9-8-8 motion in the House,” said Doherty. “Since then, we’ve lost an estimated 1,600 people to suicide. Another 40,425 have attempted suicide.”
The new bill introduced Friday makes one addition to the Telecommunications Act, and it gives the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) one year to dedicate a three-digit, suicide-prevention service.
“I was proud to second my colleague MP Doherty’s important bill today to establish a national three-digit suicide support and prevention system,” Strahl said. “The past year has been incredibly challenging. Lives and livelihoods have been lost. We have seen the devastating impacts that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the mental health of Canadians. Our national suicide rates continue to rise. We need 9-8-8 in place as soon as possible in Canada, so that when someone is in crisis, help is only three digits away.”
Statistics show that every 24 hours on average, 11 Canadians take their own life. Another 275 attempt to end their lives.
“We need a simple and easy to remember three-digit number that people can call if they’re in trouble and need help. Assistance should only be three digits away. This bill will save lives, it’s as simple as that,” concluded MP Doherty.
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