Kids Help Phone urges Canada to start a conversation about suicide on World Suicide Prevention Day

- Professional counsellors available for interview, contact media@kidshelpphone.ca-

TORONTO, Sept. 10, 2014 /CNW/ - Suicide is a leading cause of death for young people in Canada1. Since 2012, Kids Help Phone has noted a 2.3 per cent increase in counselling sessions related to suicide, possibly attributed to increased dialogue around mental health and suicide. While many youth do reach out to Kids Help Phone to talk about suicide, there are others who don't reach out to anyone at all.

There continues to be a reluctance to talk about complex topics, like suicide, due to the stigma associated with mental ill-health, but World Suicide Prevention Day provides a platform for the conversation and brings attention to the importance of social connectedness with this year's theme, Suicide: One World Connected.  Studies have shown that social isolation can increase the risk of suicide, and that having strong relationships can protect against it2.

"Young people who are thinking of suicide can feel like there is no way out, or that the feelings are permanent, but they need to feel comfortable leaning on someone they trust – a friend, a parent – to talk about what they are going through", says Gayle, Counsellor, Kids Help Phone. "It is important to create a support system so that the person struggling is better equipped to advocate for themselves."

Kids Help Phone professional counsellors are always there for young people:

  • So far in 2014, 7.5 per cent of young people who have contacted Kids Help Phone on the phone or online have spoken about suicide as the main reason they reach out, representing thousands of kids and teens from every part of Canada.
  • Forty-three per cent of callers have not spoken to anyone else about their problem or concern before reaching out to Kids Help Phone.
  • Many young people who reach out to talk about suicide use Live Chat. In fact, 12 per cent of Live Chat sessions are directly related to suicide.

World Health Organization mentions in its recent global study that people who talk about suicide may be reaching out for help; and a significant number of people contemplating suicide are experiencing anxiety, depression, and hopelessness and may feel that there is no other option3. Timed to coincide with World Suicide Prevention Day, Kids Help Phone and Facebook Canada partnered on Help a Friend in Need, a guide designed to help young people 15 to 20 understand what they can do if they spot potential warning signs that a friend online might be thinking of suicide.

"When Kids Help Phone was founded 25 years ago, we couldn't imagine that a friend's distressing status update would be a concern young people would one day have," says Sharon Wood, President and CEO of Kids Help Phone. "Today, so much of our lives happen online and Facebook is integral to many of our conversations; it's important that we continuously adapt and respond to how youth communicate in order to be there for kids, teens and young adults, no matter what."

Reaching out to a friend who is socially-removed and letting them know you care may be a life-saving act and the resource provides simple, practical tips to start these difficult conversations, including: how to reach out, how to tell an adult, and what to do if it is an emergency. Warning signs of someone that might need immediate help can sometimes be hard to interpret online, but should always be taken seriously. 

Kids Help Phone resources available to kids and teens:

  • Help a Friend in Need – download a copy of the suicide prevention resource here
  • 1-800-668-6868 –  a professional counsellor is available 24/7 to speak about concerns, big or small
  • Ask Us Online – if it's easier to write about what's on your mind, ask a question and get a response from a counsellor
  • InfoBooth – resources for kids and teens around a variety of topics, including suicide and emotional health

Kids Help Phone professional counsellors are always there to offer support, no matter what the question or concern. The service is available to youth ages five to 20, and is confidential and anonymous: 1-800-668-6868, or www.kidshelpphone.ca.

To schedule an interview with a Kids Help Phone professional counsellor, please contact media@kidshelpphone.ca.

Sources
1 StatsCan, http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-624-x/2012001/article/11696-eng.htm
2 IASP, http://www.iasp.info/wspd/
3 WHO, http://apps.who.int/iris/bitstream/10665/131056/1/9789241564779_eng.pdf?ua=1&ua=1

About Kids Help Phone

Kids Help Phone is a Canadian and world leader, known for its expertise and continuous innovation as Canada's only 24/7 professional counselling and information service for young people. Since 1989, it has offered kids, teens, and young adults a critical lifeline of hope and support through its free, anonymous service, which research shows significantly improves youth mental health. Young people reach out to Kids Help Phone's counsellors from every corner of the country via phone, Live Chat, and web post, and also benefit from its database of 46,000 local youth-serving programs. Kids Help Phone's websites and Always There app, both widely recognized models of youth-focused design, offer therapeutic tools, games, information, and counselling. As an organization that speaks with young people every day, Kids Help Phone works to share their perspectives and improve their well-being on a societal level. Kids Help Phone raises the majority of its revenue from individuals, foundations, corporations, and community fundraising; thanks to its generous donors, it can be there – always – for the 6.5 million young people in Canada between five and 20, in English and in French.

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SOURCE: Kids Help Phone

For further information: Media contact: Jennifer Long, jennifer.long@kidshelpphone.ca, 416-586-5437 x8331

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