Content warning: This article contains mentions of suicide.
World Suicide Prevention Day was earlier this month on September 10th.
My social media was flooded with many resources and supports available. In particular, I saw lots of phone numbers and links for crisis phone lines re-shared. However, it can be overwhelming when you don’t know which resource or phone number to call.
Crisis lines may be intimidating, because it is not known what happens after you dial. People can be hesitant to call because they are not sure if it is the right resource for them.
What actually happens when you call a crisis line?
"A crisis is a time in your life when you feel like you are struggling and are having difficulty coping."
- Klinic MB
Crisis lines are phone (or text) lines that provide free, confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to folks of all ages, genders and backgrounds.
Confidential means that your privacy will be respected. Confidentiality will only be extended to others in order to provide you the proper supports. Confidentiality is only broken in rare circumstances when there is an imminent risk to the life or safety of yourself or someone else, or a child welfare concern.
What you discuss will not be shared with your family, friends, or employer. It is possible that calls may be monitored for supervisory purposes to ensure the crisis line is providing quality services.
You can call for any reason. You do not have to have thoughts of suicide to call.
Crisis Lines are available to provide support to people in that moment. Examples of common reasons people call, include:
· Feelings of loneliness, isolation, anger, depression, anxiety, hopelessness or sense of losing control
· Thoughts of suicide
· Concerned about a friend, family member, or someone else
· Impacted by a suicide death
People may also call to discuss: physical or sexual abuse, substance use, financial problems, sexual identity, or relationship problems.
No concern is too small, and no problem is too big.
A trained crisis counsellor will answer your call.
This person may be a volunteer, staff member, or professional counsellor. They have received extensive training and are skilled to talk calmly and active listen to you. Volunteers are closely supervised and supported to ensure the crisis line provides quality service.
An important thing to remember about the call: you are in control.
You made the call. You are in control of the how much and what information you share. The crisis counsellor will help you to understand your problem. They will provide empathetic and non-judgmental support.
They will likely ask you, ‘Are you having thoughts of suicide?’ This is a standard question at a crisis line. Ensuring your safety is their top priority. If you are not currently experiencing thoughts, they will move on. Klinic says, if you are having thoughts of suicide, you will be encouraged to share more about it. If the crisis counsellor is are not concerned about your immediate safety, you may have a conversation about what’s been going on with you. If they are concerned, you will work together to figure out a safety plan and the next steps.
The counsellor will listen to what you want to share with them. They may ask what caused you to call the crisis line, and what solutions you’ve tried so far. They will help you find new ways of coping and understand your own personal strengths and values. The counsellors can also connect you to other resources.
If you are calling about a friend or family member who is in distress, counsellor will walk you through how to help and provide resources. They will also listen to how the stress is affecting you. They may ask how you are feeling and what you are doing for self-care. You may discuss ways to set boundaries to keep yourself safe.
There is no time limit for the call.
The can last as long or short as you want. The goal of the call is to make you feel supported and safe.
Translations services are available on some crisis lines.
To allow you to communicate in your preferred language. the Manitoba Suicide Prevention and Support Line provides translation in more than 175 languages upon request.
Crisis Call lines in Manitoba:
These call lines are available via local and toll-free numbers.
Manitoba Suicide Prevention & Support Line (24/7) *translation available
Toll free: 1-877-435-7170
Klinic Crisis Line (24/7)
Manitoba: (204) 786-8686
Toll free: 1-888-322-3019
Sexual Assault Crisis Line (24/7)
Manitoba: (204) 786-8631
Toll free: 1-888-292-7565
If you would like – you can program these numbers into your phone contacts.
I have done this for myself, and recommend that everyone should. Having the numbers pre-programed or written on a paper in your wallet will help you to make the call if feeling overwhelmed. You never know when yourself or someone you know may want or need to call a crisis line.
Crisis lines are a great resource, but there are many others available as well.
Healthy U has packages that focus on mental health. These include information and useful coping methods on topics including stress, anxiety, and depression.
The Student Counselling Centre continues to offer free virtual workshops and groups on subjects such as stress management, conflict resolution, self-esteem, relationships, and meditation. Information on all Student Counselling resources can be found here.